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An Article From Ipoh Echo - The Paper That Started It All
The article details the founding and subsequent demise of the English newspaper, the Perak Pioneer, which at its peak was a “recognised authority on Federated Malay States affairs”. Its proprietor was Syed Abdul Hassan Ibnay Burham, who was already the publisher of a Malay language newspaper and a Tamil one. Distributing its first issue on July 4, 1894, it had some teething issues including difficulty in hiring a capable editor and reliable reporters, but soon gained popularity, developing from a four-page bi-weekly into an eight-page daily by 1905. Unfortunately the problems that plagued its home-base, Taiping, hounded the newspaper as well. Once Taiping had been passed over in favour of Kuala Lumpur as the Federal Capital, its population dwindled and so did the circulation of the Perak Pioneer. On the 18th anniversary of the newspaper, its editor wrote his last editorial and in the same issue, fittingly wrote a eulogy to the dying town of Taiping as well.
Ipoh Remembered adds:
"English-language newspapers appeared early in Penang, Malacca, and Singapore, but in the Malay States the Perak Pioneer was the first one, and after a decade of growth it became the first daily as well.
The owner was an Indian immigrant who came to Taiping in the 1880s, when the town was at its height. Working initially for the Perak Sikhs, he then started out on his own as a general merchant. After a few years he began publishing newspapers – one in Tamil and two in Jawi. The Perak Pioneer was his fourth and most lucrative publishing venture. (And much like another successful Indian immigrant, Shaik Adam, he also branched out further into other fields of enterprise.)
The original paper in 1894 was a quarto, and four pages long, and published twice a week. By 1907 the paper was a folio (each page twice the size of a quarto), and eight pages long, and published daily. In other words, you could say that the paper was physically fourteen times bigger in 1907 than it had been in 1894.
From all this, one could conclude that in 1907 the Pioneer was a successful newspaper.
Whereas (from above):
Once Taiping had been passed over in favour of Kuala Lumpur as the Federal Capital, its population dwindled and so did the circulation of the Perak Pioneer.
Taiping was passed over in 1895 and KL officially became the capital in 1896.
And yet between 1895 and 1907 the Pioneer was still growing.
So why was it shut down in 1912?
Not primarily because the FMS government had been moved to KL sixteen years prior – but more because, by 1912, Ipoh had far overtaken Taiping, and a new local competitor – Ipoh’s Times of Malaya – had outstripped the Pioneer."
To read more about The Federated Malay States (FMS), click here.