Iconic rain tree in Ipoh girls’ school to be relocated to new spot

John Bunyan
Dr Ting Cheh Sing walks next to the iconic 100-year-old rain tree in the Methodist Girls’ School in Ipoh February 1, 2019. — Pictures by Farhan Najib

IPOH, Feb 1 — The 100-year-old rain tree in the Methodist Girls’ School (MGS) here will be relocated to another spot in the school compound so a multi-purpose hall can finally be built.

Chairman of the school’s board of governors Dr Ting Cheh Sing said the school will get help from the Ipoh city council to move the tree.

The decision was made after a report from an arborist or tree surgeon gave the tree a good chance of surviving the move.

“Initially, we were guided by horticulturists about the process of relocating the tree. That was when we trimmed some of its branches. However, we stopped after protest by some of the school’s former students. 

“The city council then asked us to submit an arborist report. We hired an arborist and submitted the report last December,” he told Malay Mail.

“The process of relocating will be done with the guidance of the city council and it will take time as we need to check whether the tree is healthy and fit to be relocated first,” he said.

MGS secondary board of governors chairman Dr Ting Cheh Sing speaks to Malay Mail during an interview in Ipoh February 1, 2019.

At the moment, Dr Ting said trenches have been dug around the tree and some of its roots cut to see whether the tree shows signs of life.

“So far the result has been positive. There were signs of life from the point where the roots were chopped and also the branches are growing. This shows that the tree is still healthy.

“However, we have to conduct the same test on all the roots. So it will take time as we can’t cut all the roots at the same time, it will harm the tree,” he said.

Last July, Malay Mail reported that some former students did not want the century-old tree to be cut down as it is considered a physical symbol of the institution’s growth over the generations.

A former student Lee Pooi Mun, who is leading the legal team fighting the felling of the tree, said the tree cannot be cut down without approval from the Ipoh city council.

Under Section 35H of the Town and Country Planning Act, no person is allowed to fell a tree with a girth exceeding 0.8m without the written permission of the local planning authority —unless the felling involves a dead or dying tree; is to prevent an imminent danger; or to comply with any written law.

A former student Lee Pooi Mun (right) said the tree cannot be cut down without approval from the Ipoh city council.

Lee said she had written a letter to the school demanding that the felling work be halted immediately, and that the tree be allowed to regrow undisturbed.

Yesterday, Lee told Malay Mail that her fellow alumni had agreed to relocating the tree provided that the school follows the conditional approval stated in the arborist ‘sreport.

“We also hired an arborist and based on their view, the sudden growth in the branches shows that the tree is ‘stressed’ as it’s desperate to seek light to perform photosynthesis.

“We are not against any development in the school, but the process of relocating the tree should be conducted in a way which saves the tree,” she added.

*A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.

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