Today it is Hari Merdeka Day in Malaysia or otherwise known as Independence Day. It was on this day (31 August) in 1957 that Malaysian Independence from British rule was declared at Merdeka Stadium. In the days running up to the national holiday, Malaysian flags fluttered all over the country and was seen on all the major buildings in Kuala Lumpur. Everywhere I looked, I saw the Malaysian flag. Such was the strength of national unity and you could tell the Malaysians were proud of their country.
As a tourist, a sight you cannot miss in Kuala Lumpur is the “Dataran Merdeka” or Independence Square. It was on this square that the British Union Flag was first lowered and replaced with the Malaysian Flag fifty-three years ago at midnight. A historical moment in the history of Malaysia and one that signified the diminishing British colonial rule in Asia.
It’s incredible to think that this happened only fifty-three years ago. Just one lifetime. The world has changed a lot since then and we no longer can imagine countries being colonized.
During my visit, the Dataran Merdeka was decorated with an impressive row of Malaysian flags. More impressive was the enormous Malaysian flag flying above me on one of the tallest flag poles in the world. Yes, the flag pole is 95 meters high and proudly boasts the Malaysian flag for all the world to see.
Overlooking the square is an absolutely beautiful building called the “Sultan Abdul Samad Building.” According to Wikipedia, the building was built in 1894-1897 by the British A.C. Norman to house the British government administration. Under Malaysian rule, the building housed the high court, but I am told that it now houses the Ministry of Culture and Information.
Built in the moorish style, reflecting the islamic culture, I cannot help but admire it. I love the moorish architecture. The archs themselves remind me of Egypt and Africa.
As I looked out towards the square, I think of the times past when the square used to be the cricket field of the British Royal Selangor Club. In Singapore, a similar square is home to the Cricket Club. Today the field is used for special events and parades.
As I stand there, I feel peaceful and calm. The sun is out and I hear the flags fluttering in the wind. The oldest fountain in Malaysia stands quietly near the flag pole not demanding attention. I look around and realize that all state visits must have taken place here. Afterall, this is the main square in Kuala Lumpur and one of significance importance.
Happy Independence Day Malaysia! 😀