If you’re interested in the history of Malaysia in relation to Merdeka you shouldn’t miss the Memorial Tunku Abdul Rahman, which will help you get up close and personal with the Father of Independence and the first Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Even if history is not your cup of tea, there is much to keep you occupied (and amused?) at the Memorial.
At the entrance to the Memorial you can’t miss a black, shiny, vintage car, shaped like a mini-spaceship. It’s a Fleetwood Cadillac with tail fins used by Tunku as his official car since 1965 and later by his successor and second Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Razak.
You’ll feel ‘cheated’ though if you learn about a ‘missing’car, which had stood alongside this eye-catching car. It was a 1951 Nash Rambler convertible bearing the number plate M4442.
A check with the Memorial revealed that the car was on loan at the Bank Negara Museum at Sasana Kijang, just a stone throw’s away from the Memorial for the Malaysia : 60 Cetera Somethings exhibition in conjunction with the 60th Merdeka celebrations.
The exhibition is expected to end in February 2018 and the Merdeka car should be back at the Memorial then.
Tunku travelled to Melaka in a Nash Rambler on 20 February 1956 to announce the date of Independence for Malaya at Padang Pahlawan, Bandar Hilir as you can see from the video below.
Sadly the current car is not the very car Tunku rode in Melaka. It’s just the same model which had been acquired after a painstaking search by Arkib Negara (National Archives) .
The car was the highlight of the 50th Merdeka celebrations in Melaka with the then Prime Minister Tun Ahmad Badawi riding it.
The car was found in Ohio, United States and bought for a sum of RM171,000. The company that owned it parted with it with a heavy heart as it had been used in the The Adventures of Superman TV series, driven by Lois Lane.
There’s an interesting story behind acquiring the car for the 50th Merdeka celebrations in Melaka.
The original car bearing the number plate M4442 which Tunku rode on could not be traced after a check with the Road Transport Department.
It belonged to a Malaccan who volunteered to drive Tunku and the other VIPs to the Padang Pahlawan in Bandar Hilir to announce the date of Merdeka. Attempts to trace the owner had been unsuccessful.
It was reported that an Arkib Negara search revealed there were two cars of the same model. One in Australia and the other in Ohio.
A similar model is being displayed at the The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan though.
Tunku’s Merdeka Attire
This widely-viewed Merdeka picture shows Tunku Abdul Rahman crying out Merdeka seven times at Stadium Merdeka on the morning of 31 August 1957.
The attire he wore during the ceremony is now displayed at the Memorial. It was a traditional Kedah attire which was tailored by G.K. Sediris Appuhamy of Messrs Gian Singh & Co of Kuala Lumpur.
The headgear and the pair of black shoes he used on the momentous day are displayed, too.
Of course most of the displays at the Memorial deals with the Tunku’s efforts in winning Merdeka for the nation, pure history stuff which may not be to everyone’s liking.
Amidst this material, there are ‘breathers’ to break the tedium of historical facts. Stuff that may draw a smile or two from visitors. Political cartoons and posters to relieve the tedium of digesting historical information.
A visit to Memorial Tunku Abdul Rahman need not be a ‘boring’ outing. It’s an opportunity to get up close and personal with Tunku Abdul Rahman’s life and pick up little-known nuggets of information about this great statesman.