TAIPING, June 14 — Just after Friday prayers today, some 150 people from a coalition of local civil societies gathered in front of the airstrip at Assam Kumbang here calling on the Perak government to save the 90-year-old Taiping Aerodrome, believed to be the first in the peninsula.
Holding up placards and banners with handwritten messages in Malay, English and Tamil, the demonstrators urged for the protection of the land that had once been a stopover for Amelia Earhart on her historical solo flight around the world and is now rumoured to have been sold to a private developer.
The group, called Gabungan Pelindung Warisan Taiping (GPWI), comprised Kelab Cintai Taiping, Taiping Heritage Society, Taiping Tourism Association, Warisan Anak-anak Kampung Pinang, Persatuan Penduduk Taman Saujana and Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Perak.
GPWI chairman Abu Bakar Mohamed Ali claimed the group was reliably informed that the 16-hectare land owned by the state Mentri Besar Incorporated (MB Inc) had been sold.
“Our source is a civil servant who is privy to the agreement,” he told reporters here.
Condemning the alleged sale, Abu Bakar said the aerodrome was one of the contributing factors for Taiping to be named a Heritage City.
He pointed out that the Taiping Aerodrome was built in 1929 back when the peninsula was known as Malaya.
“First woman pilot Amelia Earhart made a refuelling stopover here on June 7 1937 before continuing her journey to Singapore and New Guinea in her attempt to circumnavigate the globe,” he said.
He also pointed out that the aerodrome had been where former Indonesian president Soekarno and his deputy Mohammad Hatta once met the first PAS president Datuk Seri Dr Burhanuddin Muhammad Nur al-Hilmi to discuss the future of Malaya and Indonesia after World War Two before the Indonesian leaders flew on to Tokyo. All three leaders are now deceased.
“Malayan Airways and Berjaya Airways had also used the aerodrome for its commercial flights,” Abu Bakar added.
He said GPWI hopes to meet Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu who is the chairman of MB Inc to clear the air.
Malay Mail is trying to reach MB Inc for comment.