IPOH’S Japanese Garden, set up by the Perak Turf Club in the early 1960s, is in a sorry state.
Popular in the past among couples getting married as a venue for photo shoots, the once beautiful and colourful garden on Jalan Raja Dihilir is now a depressing shade of grey and brown.
A Japanese teahouse, a place for visitors to sit and relax in, is also now damaged while the fountain in the middle of the garden is overgrown with plants.
The ponds, which used to have Japanese carp, have all dried up while bridges built over them are dilapidated.
Club general manager Soo Lai Kok said the ponds had started leaking two years ago.
“But we were unable to find the source of the leak as the ponds are all cemented.
“We had to turn on the tap 24-hours a day so that the water would remain at a certain level for the fishes to survive.
“In the end, we decided it was not a feasible move and relocated the fishes elsewhere,” he said.
According to Soo, the garden was also the target of vandals.
“The clock in the garden had its hands ripped off by thieves.
“This was among many other items that were stolen,” he said.
The solar-powered clock, the garden’s most unique feature, was imported from the Netherlands and was considered a novelty when first brought in.
Located on a 0.48ha site at the entrance of the club, the garden was the first public garden in Ipoh and was a hit among tourists, especially those from Japan.
The club’s chairman, Tan Sri V. Jeyaratnam, had revealed previously that the idea of the garden was mooted by some Japanese visiting the club in the early 1960s and that the club spent thousands of ringgit every month to maintain it.
These days, hardly anyone visits the garden anymore.
It is believed that the lack of parking space at the garden, coupled with general disinterest, had caused the number of visitors to decrease over the years.
Many are also thought to have avoided the garden for safety reasons.
Rosli Yusof, 52, a security guard working at a hospital across the garden, said it was a waste to let the garden deteriorate and end up in a state of disrepair.
“The club should revive the garden for its historical value.
“And if they do, they should light up the garden and get the police to patrol the area regularly to keep drug addicts and troublemakers away,” he said.
Rosli also suggested that a big signage be placed outside the garden to attract visitors.
“At present, there is no signage to inform people about the garden and I think many are actually unaware of its existence,” he added.
Although an Ipoh resident, Tenaga Nasional Bhd employee Zulkapli Sabar said he has never visited the garden.
“I did not even know we had such a place,” said Zulkapli.
“I think the garden should be restored as we have very few green lungs in the city,” he said.
When contacted, the club’s deputy chairman Datuk Cheah Choon King said the management committee was undecided over what to do with the garden.
“We do not have plans for it so far, although we may take it up for the use of Persatuan Pemulihan Sultan Azlan Shah next door,” said Cheah.
The rehabilitation centre is part of Yayasan Sultan Idris Shah, of which Jeyaratnam is chairman.