Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Merdeka Story

Everyone aged above 55 today knows and remembers Merdeka. We sang the Merdeka songs as kids in the early 1960s and 1970s. We hardly worried about life. We had no worries. We were happy kids.

What was Merdeka about? When did it begin? Where did it happen? What actually happened? Why were we called British Malaya? Why were were called Tanah Melayu? Why were we called Persekutuan Tanah Melayu? What is the Federation of Malaya? Why did we have the Unfederated States? Why are we called Malaysia today? When did we become Malaysia?

Are we patriotic enough? I don't know. We have a national flag (Jalur Gemilang) and a national flower (Hibiscus/bunga raya). We have a national animal (tiger). Do we have a national bird? Do we have a national staple? Do we have a national menu, meal or dish? Do we have a national attire? We have a national language (Bahasa Malaysia/Bahasa Melayu). We have a national logo for our airlines (wau bulan). We have a national airlines (Malaysian Airlines System, MAS). We have our own curreny (Ringgit Malaysia and sen). We have our own banking system, judiciary and education system. We are a fortunate nation.

What does Merdeka mean? It means digging for old photos for me, and trying to understand what happened at Stadium Merdeka that 31 August morning. It means I must revise and read about what Tunku did for our country. It means I must also understand all the people and factions who helped contribute to our independence. 

What is independence? Why do we need independence?

Independence means we get to do things our way, our Malaysian way.

We have much resemblance to the others in this region. We are very similar to the Indonesians who are all around us. We are similar to the Thai Malays who are above us. We are similar to the Filipino Malays who are at 2 o'clock from where we are. We have ties to many Singaporean Malays who are below us on an island. If we combine all the Malays in this region, we are a large mass.

Back to our Merdeka story, what have I got to share in this post? I have some old photos in my harddisk. I probably downloaded them without making note of where I obtained them. I also have a set of photos my late father took at Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur on 31 August 1957. I wasn't born yet at the time of Merdeka. Merdeka was first proclaimed in Bandar Hilir, Malacca. We have had good prime ministers so far. We had about 55 Malay doctors at Merdeka; my maternal grandfather was one of them. 

Independence documents in London 1953 - 1956:

The first King (Agong) and Prime Minister (Perdana Menteri) 1957:

Malaysia's Prime Ministers 1957 - 2013:

First Prime Minister: Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj
As 1st PM: 31 August 1957 - 22 September 1970.Political party: UMNO. He also created PERKIM.
Born 8 February 1903 - died 6 December 1990 (aged 87).

Second Prime Minister: Tun Abdul Razak bin Hussien
As 2nd PM: 22 September 1970 - 14 January 1976.
Political party: UMNO (1953-1976). He created Buku Hijau.

Born 11 March 1922 - died 14 January 1976 (aged 53)
(suffered from leukaemia)

Third Prime Minister: Tun Hussein Onn
As 3rd PM: 15 January 1976 - 16 July 1981.
Deputy PM: 13 August 1973 - 15 January 1976.
He created the Eye Bank.

Political parties: Independent 1987-1990; UMNO before 1951; 1968-1987; National 1963-1968.
Born 12 February 1922 - died 28 May 1990 (aged 68).

Tun Dr Ismail bin Abdul Rahman
Deputy Prime Minister 22 September 1970 - 2 August 1973.
Political party: UMNO
Born 4 November 1915 - died 2 August 1973 (aged 57).
He was one of the 55 early Malay doctors before Merdeka.
An early Malay doctor from Johor; 3rd Malay doctor from Johor.

Fourth Prime Minister: Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad
As 4th PM: 16 July 1981 - 31 October 2003.
As Deputy PM: 5 March 1976 - 16 July 1981.
Longest term as prime minister in Malaysian history (22 years).
Political party: UMNO
He created Islamic banking, Tabung Haji, the OIC and Putrajaya.
He is one of the 55 early Malay doctors before Merdeka.

Fourth Malay doctor from Kedah.
Born 10 July 1925 (registered date 20 December 1925)

Fifth Prime Minister: Tun Abdullah bin Ahmad Badawi
As 5th PM: 31 October 2003 - 3 April 2009.
As Deputy PM: 29 January 1999 - 31 October 2003.
Political party: UMNO.
He portrayed an Islamic image for Malaysia.

Born 26 November 1939.

Sixth Prime Minister: Dato' Seri Mohammad Najib bin Abdul Razak
As 6th PM: 3 April 2009 - 2 April 2013; 2013-2017.
Deputy PM: 7 January 2004 - 3 April 2009.
Menteri Besar Pahang: 4 May 1982 - 14 August 1986.
Born 23 July 1953.

Proclamation of Independence Memorial in Melaka (Malacca):


Memorial Pengistiharan Kemerdekaan dinamakan sedemikian kerana pengumuman kemerdekaan Tanah Melayu dilakukan oleh Perdana Menteri Malaysia yang pertama, Al-marhum Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj di Padang Panglima yang terletak di seberang jalan memorial ini. Bangunan usang yang menjadi tarikan ini kini menempatkan butir-butir sejarah perjalanan negara ke arah mencapai kemerdekaan. Peminat sejarah juga boleh menyaksikan tayangan filem rencana mengenai peristiwa-peristiwa penting dalam sejarah kemerdekaan negara di pawagam kecil.


The Proclamation of Independence Memorial is so named because the attainment of Malaya's independence was announced by Malaysia's first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, at Warriors Field just across the road. This quaint old building now houses an exhibition that traces the history of the nation's convoluted journey to independence. History buffs should note that films documenting the highlights of the nation's independence are regularly shown at the theatrette.

(There is a photo of Tunku in a car, being driven around the Malacca Padang. I showed the photo in my class but my medical students did not know nor recognise Tunku at all. I have to search for the photo.)

At Stadium Merdeka, Bukit Petaling in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 1 August 1957 (it was drizzling). These photos are from my late father's collection. The original photos were small, dark and vague. I edited the photos using Zoner Photo Studio 15:

That's what my father wrote on the back of each photo below.

There was a post-Merdeka Parade in Bandar Hilir, about a month or so after Merdeka. I have to search for the photos and create another post.