In Malaysia, Independence Day is celebrated on 31 August every year. Why is it important to celebrate our Independence Day? For us, it is a day to remember all we as a nation have been through, as well as to demonstrate the significance of freedom and remind us of the sacrifices of our ancestors. By celebrating our Independence Day, we are acknowledging and owning the long and complicated history of our country. The whole month of August is actually dedicated to celebrating Malaysia’s independence.
For tourists to have a better understanding of Malaysia’s history, this is the right month to visit Malaysia.
So, let’s dedicate the whole month of August to learning about the history of Malaysia by doing these activities:
Visit the Proclamation of Independence Memorial
It can be said that the Proclamation of Independence Memorial is a building that safeguards many precious secrets in its vaults. The memorial exist as a reflection of a page in history from the struggle for independence to the great moments at Padang Pahlawan in Bandar Hilir, Melaka.
The two-storey building houses and exhibits historic documents ranging from the era of Melaka Malay Sultanate right up to the eve of independence in 1957. The exhibits here include collection of manuscripts, videotapes and other audio and visual collections.
The Memorial building, which was established on the mutual collaboration between the Melaka State Government and the National Archives of Malaysia, is surrounded by historical by historical remnants and structures such as the A’ Famosa Fort, St. Paul’s Hill, Padang Pahlawan Square and the Cultural Museum, which is a replica model of the Melaka Malay Sultanate Palace.
This is the place all Malaysians must go at least once in their lifetime. Admission is free.
Opening Hours: 09:00 am – 17:30 pm (Closed every Monday except on public holidays)
The Proclamation of Independence Memorial
Jalan Parameswara, 75000 Melaka, Malaysia
Tel: +606 284 1231
Get a Closer Look at the Merdeka Obelisk
What is Merdeka Obelisk, you asked? Merdeka Obelisk is one of the most significant monuments of the country’s independence from colonial Britain.
The little triangular structure was built at the Warrior’s Field on the spot where the last British resident commissioner of Malacca, H. G. Hammet, handed over the instrument of independence to the state’s first local governor, Leong Yew Koh (later Tun) on 31 Aug , 1957.
The Proclamation of Independence was then read by the Chief Minister of Melaka, Datuk Kurnia Jasa Osman Talib followed by the raising of the Federation of Malaya and state’s flags.
The memorial with the letter “M” (for Merdeka) in the centre of a 11-pointed star, also indicates where Tunku Abdul Rahman first announced the date of Independence on Feb 20, 1956, after returning from his successful talks in London.
Padang Pahlawan (Warrior’s Field),
Bandar Hilir, 75000, Melaka.
Photo is credited to The Star.
Visit the Army Museum, Port Dickson
Visiting this Army Museum can be a surreal encounter that all Malaysians should experience at least once in our lifetime. It will evoke a sense of patriotism and pride in all of us. Why this museum you asked, well, this Army Museum does a good job to show us key moments of Malaysian history and also the heroism of our warriors.
The Army Museum, known locally as Muzium Tentera Darat, is located next to a military base off the main road at 5th mile, about 7km away from Port Dickson town in Sirusa district. A property of the Malaysian Royal Armed Forces, the museum traces Malaysia’s exploits and achievements through history, trumped up with dramatised aspects and romantic story-telling.
Get to know Lieutenant Adnan Saidi who was a Malayan soldier of the 1st Infantry Brigade which fought the Japanese in Pasir Panjang and Bukit Chandu and regarded by Malaysians and Singaporeans as a national hero. Learn about the modern day heroes who saved the American soldiers during the Battle of Mogadishu, an incident that was later made into a movie called Black Hawk Down. All these stories are proudly displayed at the museum.
There are two blocks of buildings housing four galleries each, taking visitors from era to era. The museum use yellow footprints to guide you through the two-storey twin buildings so that chronological order is maintained. One of the galleries is dedicated to the era of the Melaka Sultanate, while another gallery tells the tale of British Malaya, and the various local heroes and freedom fighters. Other galleries are dedicated to the time of the formation of the Malay army, the time of the Japanese occupation and the communist insurgency.
Another interesting feature is a re-created mock-up of a communist underground tunnel. You walk down into the ground and into a darkened tunnel which has a communist sentry, surgery room, mock operations room and ammunition store.
In addition to the museum buildings, the spacious grounds also house decommissioned military vehicles, including planes, tanks and artillery guns, and a memorial fountain dedicated to soldiers who served through Malaysia’s war history. Children will love this museum because they can climb into some of the military vehicles and take pictures too.
Open daily from morning till evening, entry is free for all visitors.
Muzium Tentera Darat
Batu 4, Kem Si Rusa
71050 Port Dickson.
Tel: 06 – 647 1266 samb. 2482
Visit Tugu Negara (National Monument)
One place with patriotic significance that Malaysians rarely visit is the Tugu Negara or National Monument. Deeply rooted in Malaysia’s history, the National Monument (Tugu Negara) stands tall and proud as a testament of the sacrifices that we as a nation have gone through. Visiting this place can bring back mixed feelings, memories of struggles, moments of triumphs and at the same time sadness as we remember all those who died for the country.
Located in Jalan Tugu, off Jalan Parlimen, Tugu Negara was built for RM1.5mil and was officially unveiled on Feb 8, 1966. Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, was inspired to build a monument after visiting the Marine Corps War Memorial in Virginia, United States in Oct 1960.
He believed it was essential to commemorate those who had perished defending the country, particularly during WWII and the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960. It was reported that about 11,000 civilians and security forces were killed during that time.
The monument was designed by the late Tan Sri Felix de Weldon, an American sculptor of Austrian origin who had worked on the Marine Corps War Memorial. The construction of Tugu Negara began in 1963.
The bronze sculpture depicts a group of seven soldiers. In the middle stands a soldier in a victorious pose, his right hand holding a Malaysian flag (made from cloth). The height of the monument is 15m, making it the biggest freestanding bronze sculpture in the world.
The soldiers symbolise leadership, suffering, unity, vigilance, strength, courage and sacrifice. The statues are erected on stones imported from the coastal city of Karlshamn, Sweden.
The base of the monument is made from granite and bears the Malayan Coat of Arms, of which both sides are engraved with the inscription: “Dedicated to the heroic fighters in the cause of peace and freedom; May the blessing of Allah be upon them.”
At Tugu Negara, there are two monuments to take note of as you enter the compound. The first is a 10m-high cenotaph (an empty tomb or monument erected to honour the dead) which stands at the upper entrance of the National Monument, on a seven- tiered rectangular base.
The inscription at the bottom, “To Our Glorious Dead (1914–1918), (1939–1945) and the Emergency (1948–1960)”, testifies to Malaysia’s involvement in a number of wars, including both World Wars and and also the Malayan Emergency, a guerilla war between the Commonwealth armed forces and the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party.
Interestingly, the cenotaph was originally placed at Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin (formerly called Victoria Avenue) near the old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. It was later moved to its current site to make way for the construction of a flyover connecting Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin and the Parliament roundabout.
Names of the fallen are engraved on the plaques of the cenotaph as a token of tribute to their sacrifices.
Getting to the National Monument is relatively easy. Hop on the KTM train and get off at the Bank Negara Station. Follow the signage to Jalan Parlimen or Botanical Lake Garden. It will take about 15 minutes by foot or five minutes by taxi.
Another option is to take the Kuala Lumpur Hop-on, Hop-off bus from Jalan Bukit Bintang. One of the stops is the National Monument. You can explore the area for a bit and then take the next bus to continue the city tour of Kuala Lumpur.
The cheapest way is to take the metro to the Old Railway Station. From there it is a 10/15 minute walk to the entrance of the wonderful Lake Gardens, one of the biggest parks in Kuala Lumpur. It will take another 15/25 minutes to walk through the park to the north entrance where it is only a 5/10 minute walk to the National Monument.
Daily opening hours are between 7am and 6pm.
Address: Jalan Parlimen, Kuala Lumpur 50480 Malaysia
Story is credited to The Star.
Stay the Night at Federal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
Nestled among other modern skyscrapers that dominated the Kuala Lumpur’s famous shopping and entertainment district, Bukit Bintang, the Federal Hotel’s old-fashioned architecture really looks out of place.
However, the building’s unassuming facade betrays a rich historical trail. Back in the day, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman intended the hotel to be a world-class accommodation for the distinguished guests who would be gracing the historic celebration that marked the handover of Malaya from the British.
Completed three days before the country’s independence in 1957, Federal Hotel’s first registered guest was British government official Nancy Simmons. Affectionately known as Bunny, she chauffeured Tunku during his official visits to negotiate Malaya’s independence in London. One of its famous guest was the former world heavyweight boxing champion, the late Muhammad Ali.
The hotel’s iconic restaurant, the Mandarin Palace was even featured in a Hollywood movie called “The Seventh Dawn” in 1964.
Address: 35, Bukit Bintang Street,
Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2148 9166
Fly the Jalur Gemilang campaign
In order to nurture the spirit of patriotism in all of us, let’s participate in the Fly the Jalur Gemilang, our national flag campaign. This year, the state of Melaka has been selected as the venue for the launch of the 2019 National Month and Fly the Jalur Gemilang campaign scheduled for 3 Aug 2019.
In keeping with this year’s theme for National Day, which is “Sayangi Malaysiaku – Malaysia Bersih”, we can safely say that flying the Malaysian flag proudly can be a symbol of our love for the country. Jalur Gemilang should be given the utmost respect and dignity as it symbolises national sovereignty, unity and national pride.
So let’s fly our flag on our vehicles, office cubicles, houses, restaurants, hotels, etc throughout the whole month of August. Some tourists collected flag of the country they visited so this a good opportunity to get a free Jalur Gemilang to add to your flag collection.
Watching the Independence Day Parade
This coming 31 August 2019 marks the 62nd anniversary of Malaysia’s national independence. Known locally as Hari Kemerdekaan, it is the time of the year when Malaysians show their appreciation for yet another year of harmony among the people, and are reminded of their country’s struggle for independence.
This national event helps to educate the public, especially the younger generation, about the importance of racial tolerance, unity and cooperation so that the country can continue to enjoy prosperity, development and harmony.
The annual celebrations will not be complete without the pomp and splendour of the traditional procession. On Independence Day itself, the national day parade will take place at Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya at 7 am in the presence of Their Majesties, the King and Queen of Malaysia. The VIPs gracing the occasion are the Hon. Prime Minister of Malaysia, Malaysian cabinet ministers, foreign ambassadors and other dignitaries. Although Putrajaya is the celebration’s epicenter, expect smaller Hari Kemerdekaan celebrations all over the country to include parades and fireworks.
Among those who participate in this parade are government services such as the military, the police force, naval forces, public and private sectors’ staff and school children.
The day will be filled with a procession, cultural performances, military demonstration, intricate floats, and other interesting diversions. So, don your patriotic gear and grab a flag and start waving it!
The closing of Independence Month 2019 will be held in Kuching, Sarawak on 16 September, as it is the date that the federation of Malaysia was formed in 1963. Everyone can expect another lineup of fun patriotic activities that will pump up his/her patriotism.