Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Taiping Aerodrome to become a heritage site

(File pix) The historic Taiping Aerodrome, where aviation legend Amelia Mary Earhart had a refuelling stopover in 1937 during her journey to circumnavigate the globe, is set to become
the state’s heritage site. Pix by NSTP/Muhaizan Yahya

IPOH: The historic Taiping Aerodrome, where aviation legend Amelia Mary Earhart had a refuelling stopover in 1937 during her journey to circumnavigate the globe, is set to become the state’s heritage site.

Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said the decision was made during the state exco meeting today, where the state government also urged the state Land and Mines Department to speed up the process.

Ahmad Faizal also dismissed claims that the Taiping Aerodrome had been sold to make way for housing development projects and reiterated that under the leadership of Pakatan Harapan, some parts of the land had been returned to the Menteri Besar Perak Incorporated (MB Inc).

“I would like to stress that Taiping Aerodrome has never been approved to be 
developed. In fact, under my leadership, I have returned some part of the land to the MB Inc,” he said at a press conference after handing over RM3 million financial assistance to 261 partially-aided government schools in Perak at Dewan Serbaguna in Bangunan Perak Darul Ridzuan here today.

It was earlier reported that Ahmad Faizal had cancelled an approval made by the previous state government administration on Jan 16 to hand over part of the Taiping Aerodrome to the private sector for development.

Commenting on the recent protest held by a group of people against the alleged development on Taiping Aerodrome, Ahmad Faizal advised heritage lovers to refer the relevant authorities before accusing the state government of selling the historical area.

“At the same time, I am happy to see the huge number of demonstrators because it shows that they care for our heritage. I echo their sentiments that the place needs to be preserved too, just how important our great-grandmother’s house is to our family.

“The place needs to be spruced up and the grass needs to be cut. The 200 protesters who came that day should have done their part in making the place nice again. I would be happy to join them if they had invited me,” he added.

On Friday, several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) staged a protest against the alleged development of the area, claiming that the land had been sold without considering the importance of its heritage and historical values.

The 16.1ha Taiping Aerodrome, built in Malaya by the British in early 1929, is reputedly the first airport in Southeast Asia.

The aerodrome gained worldwide recognition when the American pioneer aviator Earhart made a refuelling stop there on June 7, 1937 before continuing her journey to Singapore and New Guinea in her bid to fly around the world.

The then-Indonesian president Sukarno and his deputy, Mohammad Hatta had also landed at the Taiping Aerodrome on Aug 12, 1945 to discuss the future of Malaya and Indonesia before heading for Tokyo.

On a separate note, Ahmad Faizal said as part of the state’s commitment to protect its historical heritage, plans are afoot to upgrade Taiping Lake Garden and Bukit Larut or better known as Maxwell Hill, both to be recognised as Taman Tasik Diraja.

“The matter was also discussed during state exco meeting today. I have received a lot of suggestions from our young leaders, DAPSY, Armada, PKR, Amanah and Bersatu. They suggested that the two main attractions in Taiping to be known as Taman Tasik Diraja.

“This is very interesting. With this understanding, we don’t have to worry about plans for developments near this area. This is also in line with Taiping being recognised as one of the most sustainable cities in the world,” he said.

Ahmad Faizal said he would seek the consent from the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah before naming Taiping Lake Garden and Bukit Larut as Taman Tasik Diraja.

The Taiping Lake Gardens, established in 1880 during the British rule, is one of the oldest public gardens.
-nst online.

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