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The Times Of Malaya - A Brief History
This first photograph (left) shows one view of the Birch Memorial Clock Tower. Immediately behind the clock tower is the first “Times of Malaya” building. The second photograph is an image of the newspaper's second building on Brewster Road. It was kindly donated by Ang Eng and we estimate its date to be 1930.
The Times of Malaya: Planters and Miners Gazette was started by J I Philips in 1903, with a mission to further the mining, planting, and mercantile interest of the Federated Malay States (FMS) and the Straits Settlements.
Registered as The Times of Malaya Press, it was a Limited Company with F Douglas Osborne, a prominent tin miner, A M Gibb, a lawyer and partner of the legal firm of Gibbs and Hope, and R Young as the Directors. Its first publication was released on March 9, 1904. This was an eight-page daily independent newspaper to which citizens actively contributed their views on the development of Ipoh, and "the impatient gave vent to their feelings in its columns."
The first issue of contention the paper raised was for Ipoh to again have its own Sanitation Board. The newspaper’s many efforts were rewarded when the Kinta Sanitary Board was split into the Kinta (North) Sanitary Board in Ipoh, and the Kinta (South) Sanitary Board in Batu Gajah.
Two years later, in 1906, Chesney Duncan took over as editor.
Then, in 1908, John Arthur Stuart Jennings came over to the Times of Malaya from the Straits Echo to take charge of the newspaper. He had been a reporter in the Singapore office of the Echo fore for several years and then became an assistant editor in Penang for the few months prior to his arrival in Ipoh. Just prior to the arrival of Jennings, for a short period, Dr R M Connolly, District Surgeon , retired from government service and took temporary charge of the newspaper to put it on a firm footing. Once installed, Jennings remained editor for some 30 years and became a leading champion of Ipoh, particularly in its bid to become the state capital of Perak. He was without doubt the most influential editor in the history pf The Times.
Eventually Jennings bought up all the shares of the Times of Malaya Press Ltd. and became the sole proprietor.
The most pressing and regular issue that the paper raised at the time was the transfer of the state capital from Taiping to Ipoh. Though Ipoh was progressing quicker and was more economically relevant than Taiping, the Colonial Government never got around to doing it, despite, in respose to public pressure, promising to do so. However, it took the Japanese invaders no time at all to do what the British Government failed to achieve. One directive from them and Ipoh became the Perak capital overnight.
In the early 1930s The Times of Malaya moved into a handsome new building in Brewster Road (second photograph). This was a three-storey Art Deco building bearing a crest with the initials TOM for Times of Malaya., but towards the end, the paper evolved into a 'one-man show'. The death of Jennings in 1936, marked the rapid decline of the paper and bought by the Straits Times Press Pte Ltd in November of that year (who also bought the Pinang Gazette in April 1936). Subsequently it merged with the Straits Echo in 1938, and was known as the Straits Echo and The Times of Malaya.
After the war, the grand Brewster Road building was used by the Public Works and the Department of Drainage & Irrigation. Today, as far as we know, the building has been rented out to Yayasan Perak.
Ipoh Remembered adds:
The Times occupied the building: from 1930 until 1938.
Incidentally, the building was designed for Jack Jennings by Keys & Dowdeswell. It was the firm’s first big project in Ipoh and Major Keys himself was involved. Construction was handled by the Ipoh office of United Engineers.
And while the building was, indeed, the second one owned by the paper, it was the paper’s third location in Ipoh: the first office was in rented space.
Editor's Note: On the left of the first picture is the three storey building of the Straits Trading Company, built in 1907 in Italian Renaissance style with a corner tower.
To read more about the Birch Memorial Clock Tower click here
To read more about J W W Birch click here.
To read an article about J A S Jennings, written by his son, click here.
To read more about The Straits Trading Company, click here.