Staying On


Staying On

Papan, Ipoh, MALAYSIA.

Papan is the oldest tin-mining town in the famed Kinta Valley in the state of Perak. It is estimated that there are millions of ringgit worth of tin ore underneath the town. Many of the townsfolks have moved out in anticipation of a resumption of tin mining, but some have stayed on, living in their dilapidated houses.

One Sunday, Dad organised a historical/foodie trip to Batu Gajah (another small town) and we stopped by Papan to check it out. He has previously spent a lot of time researching towns like these in his latest book ‘Ipoh When Tin Was King’.

Additional comments provided by Dr Ho Tak Ming

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4 thoughts on “Staying On

  1. Being in Papan is like living among the ruins. The fact that some people refuse to move away reflects their strong connnection to the town, the repository of their heritage and memories. The State Government has refused to renew the mining license for the miner who bought up 80% of the town’s shophouses; the SC wants to take back the land and make total profit from the lucrative tin. Meanwhile no one will put money in repairs as the shophouses continue in deteriorating dilapidation.

  2. Papan was once the most important town in the Kinta Valley, where tin mining commenced in the mid-nineteenth century when the rest of the place was still primeval jungle. It is still rich with untold millions in tin ore underneath. In this town are the ancestral home of Raja Bilah, the famous early twentieth-century Mandailing penghulu, and the World War II dispensary of Sybil Kathigasu, the only Malayan to be awarded the George Medal for bravery. She aided the Communist guerrillas in their resistance against the Japanese during the war. Such important heritage sites argue against a resumption of tin mining. Meanwhile Papan slumbers on, heavy with a sense of its past.

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