This article is taken from The Star Online (Dec. 11, 2009). Written by WAN NOR AZURA MIOR ABD AZIZ.
KUALA LIPIS: The district of Lipis in Pahang holds several interesting aspects of the state and country. Apart from having the former state capital and administrative centre of Pahang, Lipis is home to several illustrious Malaysians.
Among them are Sultan Ahmad Shah, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, former Home Minister Tun Muhamad Ghazali Shafie, the late writer-cum-political activist Ishak Muhammad also known as Pak Sako, celebrity chef Redzuwan Ismail (Chef Wan) and songbird Datuk Siti Nurhaliza.
During the recent Kembara Media 2009, members of the press had the opportunity to visit Siti Nurhaliza’s house and were treated to nasi lemak and cakes like kuih koci and curry puffs prepared by her mother Siti Salmah Bachik.
Siti Salmah, who addressed herself as Mak Mah, said that Siti Nurhaliza sold these foods during her school days.
The media programme took 22 journalists to Kuala Lipis, the state capital from 1898 to 1953 before Kuantan officially became the capital on Aug 27, 1955.
According to Rural and Regional Development Ministry corporate communications head Zukri Valenteno, the programme was held to enable media representatives to see the fruits of the state’s development.
Lipis, Pahang’s third-largest district after Jerantut and Rompin, spans over 527,861ha.
Part of the district is covered by forest reserves, apart from a wildlife sanctuary, waterfalls and rapids, lakes, caves and mountains.
Lipis district officer Datuk Abu Jamal Nordin said the district had a number of tourism products, particularly colonial-era buildings from the period between 1880 and 1900.
There are 14 heritage buildings, among which are the Lipis District Administration Building constructed in 1919, Clifford Secondary School, post office, former state secretary’s residence and State Mosque.
“The Tourism Ministry has set aside RM50mil a year to refurbish and maintain these structures to attract tourists to this heritage town,” said Abu Jamal at a briefing to the media on tourism development in Lipis.
Kuala Lipis itself has many historical buildings of unique architectural designs.
The State Mosque, also known as Madrasatul Firdaus, is the oldest building in Kuala Lipis and was constructed in 1888 by a Yemeni merchant by the name of Habib Hassan.
The design has a Malay Archipelago identity with Minangkabau influence.
According to long-time resident Zaki Che Rahmat, the mosque was never threatened by floods despite several massive deluges in the past.
Despite being located on the banks of Sungai Jelai, the mosque was not hit by the great floods of 1971, said Zaki, who has lived in Kuala Lipis for more than 60 years.
Also in this town is the house where Malaysia’s sixth Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was born.
The house on Bukit Bius was built in 1920 and served as the official residence of the Pahang Mentri Besar.
Najib’s father, second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, lived in the house when he was the state secretary. A midwife from Lipis Hospital had attended to Najib’s birth at the house.
The media entourage was then taken to Pahang Club, one of the earliest colonial buildings in Pahang,
It was constructed by the British in 1907 as the residence of Sir Hugh Clifford, the then supervisor of Ulu Pahang.
When the Pahang British resident moved to the Residency House in 1922, the house was used as the residence of the state British police chief until 1926.
From the middle of 1926, the house was used as an exclusive club for British senior officers.
In 1957, the club was opened only to British dignitaries and senior government officers but after the country achieved independence in the same year, it opened its doors to all.
The Kuala Lipis post office, meanwhile, is unique for its geometrical staircase at the back of the building, besides its roof and windows.
The structure, which is a year shy of being a century old, underwent renovations and refurbishments in 2002.
Near the post office in the centre of Kuala Lipis is a distance-marker stone along Jalan Lipis-Jerantut.
The stone was believed to be the centre of the peninsula’s diameter, but the Survey and Mapping Department said it was only a marker used by the department.
After the post office, the media members were taken to Clifford Secondary School. This institution, which opened its doors to students in 1913, was formerly known as the Government English School. In 1929, it was renamed after the then British resident of Pahang. Sir Hugh Clifford.
Its principal Datin Ragayah Omar said the Education Ministry declared the school as a premier school in 1996.
A year later, it became a pioneer school for Sekolah Indera Shahbandar, which admitted a select group of Form Four students from Clifford Secondary School.
Clifford is also the alma mater of Siti Nurhaliza.
During the Japanese Occupation, the school was the headquarters of the Japanese military and base for the Kempetai (Japanese secret police).
The journalists were shown a classroom once used to torture detainees but now used by Form Six students.
Along the journey, the journalists were briefed on a British-built railway that started operations in 1926 and linked Kuala Lipis by land to the rest of the country.
Initially the track linked Kuala Lipis to Johor Baru, Chegar Perah (north) and Tumpat in Kelantan at the northern tip of the east coast.
During the Japanese invasion, the track was used to move Japanese troops south for an assault on Singapore.
Apart from being an important mode of transport for locals, the route also served to move Lipis commodities such as gold and tin.
The ministry organised the three-day Kembara Media in collaboration with the Information Department and Lipis District Council. — Bernama