“Taiping has undergone numerous changes but yet managed to retain its distinctive character.” This week we celebrate all things Taiping – the town of everlasting peace. From history and heritage, landmarks to businesses, we put it all into proper perspective in our featured publications. Myriad photographs and a map share space with a biography of a famous Taiping son. Read together, they strike a fine balance between the past and present of Taiping.
In this day and age of GPS and other smart navigational apps, one would think that the familiar paper road map would be relegated to obsolescence. Despite the technological advancements however, paper maps have not outlived their usefulness. For one, unlike smart phones and similar gadgets, paper maps never run out of battery power or fail when there is no connectivity! The aesthetics of beautifully illustrated maps, showing the network of tiny printed roads, landmarks, waterways and mountains are features seldom found elsewhere.
Taiping: Town of Everlasting Peace is a unique hand drawn map showing the heritage sites and buildings of Perak’s foremost historic town. The map includes photographs of important historical buildings captioned with short histories. It is a must-have for those who wish to imbibe in the tranquillity and rich history of the town which means ‘everlasting peace’. You sense it the moment you step in – gone is the noise, hustle and bustle of the country’s metropolises, replaced by verdant hills and lush foliage. Modernity is prevalent, yet it has not forced the landscape to fit into bleak and incongruous urbanisation. But there is a lot more to this heritage town than the obvious attractions – perfect fodder for a heritage trail map – featuring the very things which appear sometimes less visible, but are no less important to the many facets of Taiping. It’s a long overdue tribute to the town’s history and heritage, and this map puts it all into proper perspective within a generous 18 by 24 inch format and an affordable price of only RM5.
From maps to postcards. Never before has the history of a state been told through a fascinating collection of old postcards accompanied by essays and charming captions, until now. Perak Postcards 1890s–1940s represents that one-of-a-kind book many people, Perakians or otherwise, have silently wished for. Over 500 historical and rare Perak postcards, neatly arranged by theme – towns, commerce and ethnology. The book opens with a short history on Perak, followed by two very interesting chapters on the history of the Perak postal system. It represents the largest such collection ever assembled into one volume, with more than 500 picture postcards contributed by several collectors. Practically all the major Perak districts and towns are featured – Ipoh, Taiping, Kuala Kangsar, Telok Anson and the mining towns of Kinta. Perak Postcards 1890s – 1940s pools the talents of Abdur-Razzaq Lubis, Malcolm Wade, and Khoo Salma Nasution, experts in their respective fields. Read the reviews here and here.
The story of Cheah Cheang Lim, a name probably unfamiliar with the ‘now’ generation, is still worth retelling as it certainly imparts important lessons even today. Known as a tin and rubber magnate, Cheah was born on 6 December 1875 in Taiping into an entrepreneurial background. He was always on the lookout for opportunities beneficial to the country at large. A firm believer in the importance of education, Cheah tirelessly persuaded the education authorities to restore the Queen’s Scholarships in the Federated Malay States, reminding the British Empire to live up to its promises. In addition, he also founded the Cheah Boon Hean Scholarship for his alma mater.Redoubtable Reformer: The life and times of Cheah Cheang Limwas based on an unpublished 1935 manuscript authored by Francis Cooray, a Ceylonese journalist with the Malay Mail. Khoo Salma Nasution literally breathed new life into it by compiling a wealth of material, including speeches, letters and family photographs, to present a vivid impression of a ‘gentleman capitalist’. This book explores the historical identity and complex cultural affiliations of the Straits Chinese in a nascent nation, illuminating the questions of ethnicity, citizenship and nationality, which continue to be debated in Malaysia today.