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Kampar is a mukim in Kampar District, Perak, Malaysia. Founded in 1887, the town lies within the Kinta Valley, an area rich with tin reserves. It was a tin mining town which boomed during the height of the tin mining industry. There were many tin mines on the outskirts of Kampar during the height of the mining boom. Most of them were established in the late 19th century, flourished in the 1900s, only to stagnate and decline after World War I, with the exception of an exhilarating boom in the 1920s. Most have closed down following the collapse of the industry, especially in the late 20th century.
Kampar is situated in the Kinta Valley, which was well known for its high tin ore reserves. Its vast surroundings as well as abandoned mining-ponds are suitable for fishing, which has become a major attraction for anglers around the country, especially from Kuala Lumpur.
Kampar town can be broadly divided between the 'old town' and 'new town' areas. The old town consists of two main streets, Jalan Gopeng and Jalan Idris, of charming pre-war shop houses. The fronts of these shop houses are still mostly resemble their original appearance. Commerce in the old town area mainly consists of coffee shops, goldsmiths and local retailers. The new town area mainly consists of new residential developments and some commerce servicing the burgeoning education industry in Kampar. On the 21st of May 2009, the Sultan of Perak declared Kampar as the state's 10th district.
However, according to the residents, there is no new or old town. The 'new town' is just a residential estate with a few rows of shop-lots to cater for the growing number of university students. The term 'new town' originates from the Cantonese spoken dialect which refers to Taman Bandar Baru as new town. Whereas 'Taman' in Malaysia refers to a residential estate.
Based on Datuk Hashim Bin Sam Abdul Latiff's article, early settlements in Kampar relate to the historic event of the murder of the British Resident in Perak, JWW Birch, as Ngah Jabor who was one of the early settlers in Kampar was amongst those connected to murder, together with the others who include Maharaja Lela, Datuk Sagor, Si Putum and others. However, Ngah Jabor escaped sentence when Raja Idris (Dris), who later became Sultan of Perak in 1887 presided over the case involving those accused of Birch's murder in 1876.
Raja Idris and Ngah Johor have family ties and share milk mothers since as an infant, Raja Idris was taken care of by Ngah Jabor’s mother, which is common amongst royal families to send their children to other families, particularly amongst the aristocrats, to feed.
There is a possibility that between the years 1876 to 1886, Ngah Jabor went into hiding to equip him with spiritual skills and reappeared in public with a new identity as Mohamad Jabor. It is possible that during his hiding, he had opened a new settlement in Kampar to elude the British.
Kampar had its share of war during the Japanese Occupation between 1941 and 1945. From December 30, 1941 to 2 January 1942 the Battle of Kampar occurred. An estimated 3000 British soldiers defended the Kampar area against over 6000 Japanese soldiers. The British Army inflicted serious casualties on the Japanese and only retreated when their flank and rear was threatened by Japanese seaborne landings on the coast south of their position. This battle was documented by the famous Kampar historian, Chye Kooi Loong. (See link below)
Origin of name
One plausible theory is that Kampar is named after the Kampar River (north of the current township). The river itself got its name from immigrants from the Kampar Regency in Riau Province, in Sumatra, who used the river to navigate upstream. This predates the large-scale mining of tin in Kampar, so it is likely that the Cantonese words "kam pou" were derived from the word Kampar, rather than the other way around. Curiously, Kampar Regency in Sumatra was where the 1st Sultan of Perak (Sultan Mudzaffar Shah) was based before becoming Sultan of Perak in Perak (his highness was a son of the last Sultan of Malacca).
The local Chinese community had the impression it came from the Cantonese word kam pou as it means "precious gold" (referring to the town's previously large tin reserves, because of the Chinese people also speak in Cantonese only, although there are two dialect groups of the local Chinese populace dominating this town, notably the main Cantonese majority alongside with the Hakkas, which constitute the two largest ethnicities of the local Chinese population). This is misleading as they were not aware of the history of the area and its historic relation to Kampar (Riau) as stated in the paragraph above.
Story behind Aston Settlement
Arthur Vincent Aston CMG, MC (born 1896, in Chester-1981), was a Colonial Administrator in British Malaya. He was the first British Adviser for Perak after the abolishment of the post British Resident of Perak.In 1935, he spearheaded a plan to alleviate the crowding in Kampar. The already cramped and unhygienic living environment in the town was at its saturation point. Three years later in 1938, Aston Settlement located on the fringes of Kampar, was ready to resettle the dwellers. It is now listed among the 460 plus New Villages nationwide. That’s how the village got its name.
The Kampar local town bus station which serves Ipoh, Teluk Intan, Tapah, Malim Nawar and other areas in the vicinity is located within walking distance of less than 100 meters from the express bus station. Among the local bus companies that are operating in Kampar would be Perak Transit and Kinta Omnibus Company (Both serving routes north of Kampar all the way to Ipoh), Kamta Omnibus Company (serving routes south of Kampar to Tapah) and Hup Soon Omnibus Company (routes from Kampar to Teluk Intan). The local bus station building has remained unchanged ever since it was built.
Long distance, intercity express buses serves Kampar and has routes to Butterworth, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. They are located in the express bus station in the town area. Express bus companies from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS), Kuala Lumpur with direct links from Kuala Lumpur to Kampar are Perak Transit, Edaran, Super Ria, Konsortium and Parit Express. Ticket prices are around RM16-RM16.60 one way. The bus ride takes from Kuala Lumpur to Kampar will take about two and half hours.
Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) and Tunku Abdul Rahman (TAR) college buses are also available for pickup service of their students around the vicinity.
Taxis, which consists mostly of old E-Class Mercedes, are available around the local town bus station.
Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) has introduced a shuttle train between Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur Sentral that serves the Kampar Railway Station. It would take two and half hours between Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur Sentral. The Kampar Train Station is located at the south-eastern part of town, in the vicinity of a housing estate known as Taman Melayu Jaya.
In year 2010, the estimated population of Kampar district was 98,878 people. The majority of the Kampar's population is of 55.8% Chinese descent, 32.4% Malays, 11.4% Indian and others 0.2%. There is a large student population with the Tunku Abdul Rahman college (TARC) and University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) in the new residential area (Taman Bandar Baru Kampar).
In the 19th and most of the 20th century, the economy of Kampar revolved around tin-mining. However, many tin-mining companies were forced out of business during the economic recession in the 1980s. Nevertheless, the town's economy recovered, slowly, by the end of the 1980s.
Since the completion of the North–South Expressway, Kampar's status as a bustling town has declined rapidly. Travelers stopped frequenting the town as they chose the more convenient highway. The nearest exit from highway is in Gopeng and Tapah, which is inconvenient for travelers.
The commercial and industrial sectors are the main driving forces of Kampar's economy. More recently, its economy has been further driven by the construction of the new Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) campus. Also, a Tesco Hypermarket was opened on 13 August 2008. Latest addition includes both, Econsave and Giant hypermarket nearby Kampar new residential area.
Also, Kampar is known for its freshwater fishing spot as most of the surrounding area is covered by man-made lakes. Centuries old abandoned tin mines have turned into natural lakes. Tilapia, Pangasius, Kaloi, Tutu, Tongsan, Catfish, and many kinds of freshwater fish flourish abundantly in these lakes. Most of these lakes are also converted into fish farms, duck farms or other horticulture produce farms.
Before Hypermarkets, the available supermarket in Kampar is the Minat Supermarket. It is located near the bus station. Daily consumables can be also be obtained from the many Chinese retail shops located all over Kampar. Some are as good as small scale supermarkets with a modern shop design. Banking facilities available in Kampar are Maybank, CIMB, Public Bank, AmBank, Agro Bank, Hong Leong Bank, Bank Simpanan Nasional and RHB.
Kampar is a centre of tertiary education for the campus of Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TARC) and the new campus of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR). With an estimated combined capacity of more than 20,000 students, these two institutions are touted to be the two instruments that will restore the town to its former glory. Other private institution of higher learning would be Kolej Menara Jaya and Kolej Sri Ayu.
Kampar is also served by various primary and secondary schools. Notable government schools in Kampar are:
- SMK Methodist ACS Kampar
- SK Methodist ACS Kampar
- Pei Yuan High School
- SMJK Pei Yuan
- SRJK (C) Pei Yuan
- SMK Kampar
- SRJK (C) Kampar Girls
- SRJK (C) Chung Hwa
- SRJK (T) Kampar
- SMK Seri Kampar
- SK De La Salle
- SMK Sentosa
- SK Kampar
- Westlake International School
- Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood – late wife of ex Prime Minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
- Eric Moo – a Taiwan-based singer, composer and producer, was born in a nearby suburb, Mambang Diawan. He has currently shifted his attention towards China.
- Olivia Lum – founder of water treatment company Hyflux in Singapore.
- Ejie Wahid – singer with 90's Malaysian pop group 'Freshies'
- Mark Chang Mun Kee – founder of JobStreet.com
- Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin – Former 10th Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) of the state of Perak
- Shahir AF8 – Champions of Akademi Fantasia 8's reality show in Astro television.
- Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim – Malaysian historian, an emeritus professor in the History Department of the University of Malaya. He is one of the co-authors of Rukunegara. He is a highly regarded national academic for his views on local sports and socio-political issues
- Tan Sri Hew See Tong – started Bandar Baru Kampar or Kampar New Town, a former tin miner and an elected member of the Parliament for 3 terms from 1995 to 2008 for the Kampar constituency
- Chye Kooi Loong – world-renowned authority on the Battle of Kampar (historical battlefield site "Green Ridge") during World War 11, between the British and Japanese forces from Dec 30, 1941 to Jan 2, 1942.
The parliament seat is a traditional fight between the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Barisan Nasional (represented by Malaysian Chinese Association, MCA). The current member of parliament is Ko Chung Sen from Democratic Action Party – Pakatan Rakyat.
Kampar is famous for its food. For example, fish ball noodles, chicken biscuit, claypot rice, prawn mee, rice noodles ("Lai Fun" in Cantonese), char kuay teow, wan tan mee, lor mai fan (glutinous rice), and ham kok chai (salty vegetable dumpling). Two types of food that made their way out of Kampar town itself and is synonymous with Kampar are chicken biscuit and fishball noodle. The Kampar chicken biscuit is so famous that it spawned a whole series of other 'chicken biscuit' brands.
Other local cuisine includes the chee cheong fun, where curry is often the preferred condiment. Chee Cheong Fun is a noodle made from rice flour which is steamed into sheets and chopped up into noodle like slivers. In Kampar it is frequently served with 2 types of tofu, along with assorted fish balls or pig skin in curry. Chee cheong fun is commonly eaten for breakfast or supper where a couple of stores are set up at the local market.
The Curry Chicken Bun (面包鸡 `Min pau kai' in Cantonese, Roti Kari Ayam [Bahasa]) is one of Kampar's most recognized food icon, it is famous for its original taste of curry, not very spicy but tasty. The curry chicken is wrapped beneath a layer of plastic and grease proof paper. The golden brown bread texture is soft and fluffy and combines well with the curry broth. which is often sought after by tourists.
- Based on historical book under title "Buku Orang Biasa Diraja, Hayat dan Zaman Imam Perang Jabor (1858-1921)" – wrote by Hashim Sam. These book is produced by Malaysia Historical Association and the copies have been translated to English version by National Library of Malaysia under the title of "The Royal Commener; The Life and Times of Imam Perang Jabor, (1858-1921)"
- Department of Statistics, Malaysia: Population Distribution and Basic Demographic Characteristics, 2010, pg 79, Table 3.7: Total population by ethnic group, sex, administrative district and state, Malaysia, 2010
- Department of Statistics, Malaysia: Population Distribution by Local Authority Areas and Mukims 2010: Table 1 : Key summary statistics for Local Authority areas, Malaysia, 2010, pg 7
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Kampar.|