The official opening of Gopeng’s community-based ‘history and culture centre’ on World Heritage Day 2009, 18 April is another milestone in Perak Heritage.

Gopeng is a pioneer tin-mining town of the Kinta Valley , 15km south of Ipoh , the capital of Perak state. Inhabited by communities of Orang Asli, Malays, Chinese, Indians and Sikhs, this old town has many stories to tell.

gopeng-mini-heritage-museum

The ‘Gopeng history centre‘, yet to be officially named in English, is located at No.28, Jalan Eu Kong, in a row of double-storey brick shophouses built in 1887 by Eu Kong. Eu Kong is the founder of the pharmaceutical empire, Eu Yan Sang, which has its beginning in Gopeng.

 

Last year, local-born-and-bred Bernard Yaw commenced restoration of the shophouse, their ancestral home. Now, its upper floors provide a living space and rooms for his family for when they ‘come home’. The ground floor becomes the Gopeng history centre, which is devoted to the promotion and appreciation of local history, and its hometown heritage.

 The centre is the initiative of local residents led by Bernard Yaw. It is home to a non-governmental organization to be named Pertubuhan Pengurusan Muzium Gopeng, registration pending, with a small select committee of locals chaired by Yaw. A local historian, Mr Phang Sai Hong has created a permanent exhibition of historical images and a wide range of historical objects. A former teacher, Phang wants to focus on the history of this ‘town of tin and rubber’, passing onto the young the knowledge of his hometown.

A lack of town planning has caused the corrosion of the town’s heritage. Knowledge of its history can help to reverse its decline and revive the town. Already, eco-tourism in the jungle nearby, ancestral home of the Orang Asli, has made Gopeng a popular destination. A history centre will provide a focal interest in Gopeng town, where local communities can share their hometown with visitors. Increasing economic activities will benefit local traders and service providers.

The people of Gopeng take pride in their hometown. They identify with the place with cherished memories. Gopeng is primed for hometown heritage.

The Perak Heritage Society (PHS) supports hometown heritage and the efforts of the Gopeng history centre in creating a space for the appreciation of the town’s history, for both locals and visitors. We hope that other shophouse owners in Gopeng will get inspired to renew their buildings and put it to economic uses, to create employment opportunities to the young and stop the drain of human resources.

On this day, various heritage sites in town will share the joy of the occasion and welcome visitors. The PHS will offer a self-guide map to Gopeng with walking trails (at minimal cost), as well as guided walk on request for a donation yet to be set.

The official opening ceremony begins at 10 am. It will be followed by light refreshments for invited guests, then a guided walk. Poster : gopeng-cameron-highlands-trek-april-09

 Law Siak Hong

President of the Perak Heritage Society

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