Loading...
Sunday, 3 May 2015

Ramblings from Malaysia: Of History, Museums and Memorials



When was the last time you visited a history museum in a country that you travelled to? Me? It was probably back in 2013 when I visited Muzium Gajah in Jakarta, Indonesia. Now when was the last time you visited a history museum in your own country? 

The last time I visited Muzium Negara, the National Museum of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, was perhaps more than 10 years ago. And it was only because a friend from Japan insisted on visiting the museum. My visit prior to that? I’m not sure. Probably more than 20, 25 years ago?

It’s funny isn’t it, if we think about it. Sometimes we travel far and wide to learn about other countries - their cultures, food and maybe a bit of history, on top of everything else there is to see and do in each place – and yet, (most of the times) we don’t really care much to explore or learn about our own culture and history. (Food, of course, could be a different story. ;) ) This is despite the fact that knowledge about these – culture and history – could easily be our key to understand the society and country of the present day. As one William Shakespeare once said, “What is past is prologue”.

Recently I had the chance to visit 4 interesting, albeit perhaps not so popular, destinations in Kuala Lumpur that provided the opportunity for me to learn more about the history of the country, something that we (read: I) usually take for granted, especially since we (again read: I) left school. These 4 destinations are: 
  1. Tunku Abdul Rahman Memorial; 
  2. Tun Abdul Razak Memorial; 
  3. Tun Hussein Onn Memorial; and 
  4. Galeria Sri Perdana. 

These memorials and gallery are connected to each other as they showcase the history and life of the first 4 prime ministers of Malaysia who collectively held the office for almost 50 years since just before the independence of Malaya in 1957 (Malaysia was only formed in 1963) until 2003.



1. Tunku Abdul Rahman Memorial



Clockwise from top left:
The Residence, Malaya's original 11-stripe flag, a quote by Tunku, and the official car of Tunku.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra was the first Chief Minister of Federation of Malaya and later first Prime Minister of Malaysia. His memorial is a building complex that was built around his official residence that’s called The Residency.

Originally built in late 1800s for the British Residents for Selangor, the house became the official residence of the late Tunku from 1956 when he became the Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaya. He remained there until 1970, the year in which he stepped down as Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The memorial commemorates the contribution and services of Tunku and highlights important milestones during the periods when Federation of Malaya was struggling for independence from the British, the subsequent formation of Malaysia and the racial riots that happened one year before Tunku stepped down from the office.

Apart from the main residence of Tunku and his main office as Chief Minister (and later Prime Minister), the star attraction at this memorial probably is the “Tunku and The Star” exhibition which, among others, showcases Tunku’s commitment, sacrifices and relationship with the people in the years leading up to Independence. You’ll walk away with no slightest doubt that Tunku was indeed 'Bapa Kemerdekaan' (Father of Independence) and 'Bapa Malaysia' (Father of Malaysia).



Address: Jalan Dato Onn, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
GPS Coordinates: 3.156568, 101.690489
Public Transport: Bank Negara KTM Komuter Station (about 600m from the station) 
Admission Charges: Free





2. Tun Abdul Razak Memorial



Clockwise from top left:
Sri Taman Building, the living room, dining table, and a diary of Tun.
Tun Abdul Razak was the second Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1970 to 1976. He had the unenviable task of bringing Malaysia forward following a racial riot in 1969. Recognised and known as 'Bapa Pembangunan' (Father of Development), he’s mostly known for launching the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971 to tackle the economic and social imbalance which gave rise to racial tensions in 1969.

His memorial is housed in his official residence where he stayed from 1962 until his untimely death in 1976. This is where you can learn the biography of the man – who’s also the father of the 6th (current) Prime Minister of Malaysia – and his long list of contributions towards rural development and social justice. Prior to becoming the Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak held various ministry posts including Education Minister (his Razak Report formed the basis of the country’s education system), Minister of Rural Development, Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister.



Official Website: http://www2.arkib.gov.my/english/mtar.html
Address: Sri Taman, Jalan Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
GPS Coordinates: 3.141273, 101.687259
Public Transport: Kuala Lumpur KTM Station (Old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station) 
Admission Charges: Free





3. Tun Hussein Onn Memorial



Clockwise from top left:
Signage of the memorial, exhibition halls

Tun Hussein Onn became the 3rd Prime Minister following the death of Tun Abdul Razak in 1976. He remained in the office for just over 5 years before stepping down in 1981 due to health reasons. His memorial, unlike others, is housed in a former office building and showcases his life on a chronological basis. One whole floor is devoted to his biography, introducing him to the public about his family background as well as his time in the military in India and the Middle East, and subsequently in politics, especially after his return from London as a certified lawyer.

Two other floors are devoted to his time and contributions whilst holding ministerial positions like Education Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and subsequently as the Prime Minister. Carrying on with the policies of the previous Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn was known for stressing on policies that aimed at rectifying economic imbalances among the various communities to ensure a more united Malaysia. And for that, he’s known as 'Bapa Perpaduan', or Father of Unity.



Official Website: http://www2.arkib.gov.my/english/mtho.html
Address: Jalan Dato Onn, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
GPS Coordinates: 3.157315, 101.692501
Public Transport: Bank Negara KTM Komuter Station (about 600m from the station) 
Admission Charges: Free





4. Galeria Sri Perdana



Clockwise from top left:
Sri Perdana, some of Tun Dr. Mahathir's wood work, a comic strip of Tun & wife by Lat, and Tun's Proton Perdana.

Galeria Sri Perdana was the official residence of the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, from 1983 to 1999 before the completion of the new official residence in Putrajaya.

Today, it has been turned into a public gallery by Arkib Negara, the National Archives, to allow visitors to get a peek into the private life of the longest serving Prime Minister, who’s also known as 'Bapa Pemodenan' (Father of Modernisation) for turning Malaysia from an agricultural-based country into an industrial one.

Most of the residence has been preserved as it was but some areas (e.g. his sons’ rooms) have been renovated to make way for exhibition areas. While others might be interested in the drawing rooms and dining hall on the ground floor and the kitchen and bedrooms on the upper floor, I was rather intrigued to find a craft room on the lower ground floor. Apparently Tun Dr. Mahathir enjoys doing some wood work during his limited spare time. Some of his unfinished artworks were on display in the room itself, and they include the emblems of Malaysia, which are actually quite intricate. It makes one appreciate how he had to strive for family time as well as personal time despite his busy schedule as a Prime Minister. Also of interest to me were a few framed comic strips by Lat about Tun and his wife, Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah, as a loving & doting couple that adorn the wall on the way to a meeting room at the residence.



Official Website: http://www2.arkib.gov.my/english/sriperdana.html
Address: Jalan Terengganu, Bukit Persekutuan, 59000 Kuala Lumpur
GPS Coordinates: 3.143692, 101.674367
Public Transport: KL Sentral & taxi
Admission Charges: Free





Overall, I personally found Tunku Abdul Rahman Memorial and Tun Hussein Onn Memorial to be the most interesting and comprehensive from history perspective. You can expect to spend at least 2 hours at each of these places, more if you're a history buff. These 2 memorials are also located next to each other, making it easy for a half day out for anyone interested in the history of Malaya/Malaysia.

Tun Abdul Razak Memorial on the other hand is located in an area that is full with other popular tourist attractions like Masjid Negara (National Mosque), Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Bird Park, Butterfly Park, Orchid Park, etc. which makes it easy for anyone to just pop in and have a look for a bit while taking in the sights in the surrounding area.

Compared to the three memorials, Galeria Sri Perdana is a bit out of the way but still worth a visit if you’d like to learn more about the private life of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and his family.

Coming away from these places I couldn't help but learn more about the history of the country and what turns Malaysia into what she is today. Whether or not one agrees with the way Malaysia has been governed by the first four prime ministers, one can still learn to appreciate the heavy tasks that they faced in trying to build and uniting this young nation and steering it towards development and modernity.

While what is past is prologue, it is up to the current leadership and generation to understand it in order to write the future for a hopefully great epilogue.

- - - - - - -

Have you been to any of these 4 places? What do you think of them? If you haven't, would you visit them the next time you're in Kuala Lumpur?



Acknowledgment
My appreciation and thanks go to Santai Travel magazine and Arkib Negara for the opportunity to join Eksplorasi Media Memorial 2015.



Going to Kuala Lumpur? Do check out these Kuala Lumpur hotels for your accommodation requirements there.

For other www.RambleAndWander.com blog entries on Malaysia, click here.


41 comments:

Comments and feedback are always appreciated. So do leave one or two if you have the time. Thank you!

  1. I spent a couple of years a child in malaysia and I'd love to go back. Your photos are the malaysia I remember (from over 45 years ago!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! Hope you had a great time in Malaysia. 45 years... time for a revisit maybe? Airfares from London to KL can sometimes be as low as GBP400 these days. ;)

      Delete
  2. I claim to be a proud Malaysian but never been to any... ok 4 weekends in a row!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hah! Same here, at least until a couple of weeks back *gulps* Anyways when you do, do share about your experience so that more people would be aware of these places. :)

      Delete
  3. What an interesting post. I'd love to visit any of these places, but I have not yet made it to your country. I always visit history museums when I travel, but your post raises the good point that I've skipped some of the history museums in my own country (U.S.). Thanks for the reminder!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's more of a reminder for myself actually because I'm definitely guilty of that too *gulps*

      Do make it a point to at least stop by KL if you're heading this side of the world anytime soon. I'd love to visit City of Brotherly Love one day too. :)

      Delete
  4. My last local museum visit was Muzium Adat in Kuala Klawang, Jelebu!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds like an interesting one. Minang culture is still very much foreign to me although Negeri Sembilan is just next to Selangor!

      Delete
  5. Thanks for sharing this! I'm hoping to go to KL at the end of this month with a good friend of mine who is really into history so this is perfect- thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sophie, that's great to know! :) Do let me know when you're in town. If I'm in town and free at the time, can always meet up for a drink or maybe can even just show you guys around town.

      Delete
  6. Always interesting to find out about different places to visit. Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right, Dave. It was quite interesting especially when I thought I was already running out of places to see in KL ;)

      Delete
  7. I have never been to Kuala Lumpur but this looks very interesting. I just love going off the beaten path and seeing something a little more. Great write up and definitely bookmarked!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Yvonne. I certainly love doing that too!

      Delete
  8. I love memorials and history museum!
    I'm in Berlin right now, so it's the perfect place to visit those memorials! There's always such strong stories behind them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup! I couldn't agree more. Love reading about history and stories behind them but unfortunately this usually takes a lot of time, which is a luxury especially while you're travelling.

      Btw, would love to visit Berlin one day! Germany is the only country I haven't been to in Western Europe. I have no idea why, haha!

      Delete
  9. I hope to make it to Malaysia this year. Thanks for your thoughts and more inspiration to visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I hope you do make it here soon! :)

      Delete
  10. Great post! I surely learned a thing or two about Malaysia through you! I've lived in Asia for almost all of my life, yet I have never been to Malaysia. Hopefully I can visit there sometime soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Aileen! Do pay us a visit the next time you're back on this side of the globe. We're just a quick hop from the Philippines! ;)

      Delete
  11. My husband, daughter and I will soon be going to Malaysia very soon and these museums are the perfect stops for our homeschooling adventures. Thank you so much for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great to know! Hope you'll enjoy the memorials and Malaysia in general! :)

      Delete
  12. We´re from the US (Pennsylvania and Virginia) and just love their history museums, especially Philadelphia, PA and Williamsburg, VA. We anticipate returning to the Philippines in a few years and will have to put Malaysia on the itinerary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great to know that you're putting Malaysia in the plan! It's just a short flight from the Philippines and these days there are plenty of bargain airfares to be had between the two countries :)

      Delete
  13. So glad you had this experience - I try to visit history museums in most places I visit - I find understanding the history behind a location really gives you a better understanding of the place and how it has evolved over time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, I try to do that as well wherever I travel to, as long as time permits but when it comes to my own hometown/city, there's a tendency to take it for granted because we (read: I) usually think "Oh! We can visit it anytime we like" though in the end, we never really make the time to visit these kind of places. *gulps* :)

      Delete
  14. I would love to visit Malaysia again. Thank you for letting me remember why I love Malaysia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great to know. Do give me a shout out if you're planning to come back anytime soon! ;)

      Delete
  15. I just left KL, sadly I never had time to visit the museum!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, there's always next time ;) Hope you had a great time when you were in KL, btw! :)

      Delete
  16. I've never been to Malaysia before, so that was really interesting! It is a country with a very rich history that I would love to explore further myself one day! Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No worries! Do give me a shout if you're heading this way! :)

      Delete
  17. wow hitam putih..nostalgia sangat. Me too haven't been to these memorial before. National museum pun pergi masa trip secondary school dulu haha.. and i promised my 1st child to visit NM since she was 8 yo, nak tamat sekolah dah dia hehee..

    And, i think i'm still not sensitive enough bcoz tak perasan pun bendera 11 jalur tu.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mestilah hitam putih sebab nak kasi mood mcm zaman TV hitam putih dulu, haha! ;)

      Astaghfirullah al 'azim... bawa je lah anak tu pergi Muzium Negara sekali. Kesian dia, haha! Boleh naik komuter sampai KL Sentral kemudian lintas jalan je dari sana, wokeh! Heheh!

      Delete
  18. I completely agree with your comment about us not wanting to explore our own culture as much as another place and culture we think is more interesting. It's amazing what we can actually find if we explore our own backyards. We're a lot more interesting than we think! That being said, I love history museums. I love to see where we have come, what we've accomplished. Great post, I'm going to put these on my to do list when I'm back in Southeast Asia!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Joe. Do give me a holler if you're back in Malaysia :)

      Delete
  19. me was during CNY..went to melaka....baru realized banyak betul museum kat around bandar hilir / famosa and most are free. hehe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. eh..on 2nd thought...baru jer few weeks revisit Sasana Kijang..pegi museum matawang..hehe

      Delete
    2. Fuh! Bagus betul anak muda zaman sekarang, ce wah! Haha! I've only been to Muzium Istana Kesultanan Melaka. Yg lain2 tu tak sampai lagi. Oh and Muzium Baba & Nyonya too. Planning to go to Sasana Kijang soon too but probably more for its architecture, heheh!

      Delete
    3. haha. anak muda la sgt. anyway..sasana kijang to kira bole kill birds with one stone la..coz ada art gallery, museums and as well as because of the architecture. :)

      Delete
    4. Yup, that's one of the appeals of Sasana Kijang, I'd say!

      Delete
 
Toggle Footer
TOP