Translated by WINNIE CHOOI
Sin Chew Daily
KUALA LIPIS, Pahang -- Kuala Lipis used to be the state capital of Pahang but has now retreated to oblivion due to geographical restrictions. Local residents have since been living in a quiet and laid back environment with the only attraction being heritage buildings preserved from the colonial times.
There are about 3,000 Chinese residents in Kuala Lipis, or about 26% of the town's total population. The lack of career opportunities has resulted in population outflow and as a result, many of the town's streets remain quiet especially after midday and during weekends.
More than a century ago, the British people discovered gold and underground tin in Kuala Lipis and the colonial government decided to develop the place. Government office buildings, schools and holiday villas were erected, followed by the arrival of Chinese merchants involved in mining business. Kuala Lipis then became a vibrant and thriving town.
However, the gold and tin deposits were not as rich as had been anticipated. As a result, Chinese businessmen began to leave and the British government decided to relocate its operations to Kuantan in 1953, and the town has since become quiet all over again.
The establishment of Institut Pendidikan Tinggi Awam and Mara Technical Institute has brought in many young students, and increased consumerism has rejuvenated the town's overall economy.
Like other rural communities, the livelihood of local residents depend mostly on rubber tapping, oil palm plantation and agriculture. However, the agricultural industries fail to lure energetic young people and many would leave the town after graduation.
The government has recently embarked on a vigorous plan to develop new towns to replace the old streets by the river. The government administrative centre has been relocated to new premises in hope of driving businesses to the newly developed townships.
The development of new stores, terminal station and markets has revived the quiet town.
Located along Jalan Jelai, Thean Hou Temple has been included in the government's list of heritage buildings in Kuala Lipis.
Established more than a century ago, the temple witnessed the arrival of Chinese businessmen to Kuala Lipis.
It was said that during the 18th century, a British general wanted to conquer a Malay village but had failed to do so. One night, his Hainanese chef dreamt of the Heavenly Goddess who asked him to tell the general the right tactics to invade the village.
Upon his victory, the British general erected an altar for the worship of the goddess and many devotees have since come to pay their respect.