Taiping was known to have been a model for the other townships in Malaysia during colonial times, with the establishment of a town market and a general hospital.
The Taiping Market comprises two buildings, the Old Market (on Main Road, now Jalan Taming Sari) built in 1884 and the New Market (on Kota Road) built in 1885. The buildings were built with timber pillars, concreted slab and iron roof, and is possibly the best preserved example of a major 19th century market building. There was an iron fountain that originally stood in front of the market, but it was removed years later and replaced with a simple concrete clock tower. The market was stocked with fresh vegetables, fishes and meats, the price of which was controlled by the government. Sir Frank Swettenham who was the Acting Resident of Perak (1884-1886) was known to have had a role in the establishment of the market in Taiping. Sweetenham had suggested to the then British Resident of Perak, Sir Hugh Low, that a market was needed as the population of the town growth was increasing fast. Low had indeed written in his journal, “…the town has a good model for others, with a well maintained market for the public use.”
[Click here for a further look at the Taiping Market]
The Taiping Hospital was the first hospital established in Perak (and Malaysia, for that matter). It was originally built in 1880 by the local Chinese community and was named Yong Wah Hospital (The Chinese Pauper Hospital), located on Main Road. The hospital was financed by the Chinese merchants while the State Government provided equipment, medicines and nursing staff. The hospital only charged a minimum fee of 50 cents per annum from the poor. Due to the large numbers of patients from the low income group, the hospital faced financial difficulties. It was then taken over by the State Government at the end of 1880, and renamed Taiping General Hospital. The institution had 900 beds and was under the supervision of Dr. Hamilton Wright, the first Health Inspector. A capitation fee levied on the Taiping populace was introduced by Sir Hugh Low was proved unpopular and was subsequently abolished in 1884. On 14 February 1897, the first demonstration of X-rays (the first “patient” subjected to the X-ray was a pomfret, ie ikan bawal) in the Far East (according to a press report by The Straits Times) was conducted at the Taiping Hospital. Taiping Hospital today is a modern medical centre which functions as a referral centre for the small district hospitals in North Perak, and includes specialties like surgery, obstetrics & gynaecology, paediatrics and psychiatry.