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UM Library Exhibition

Welcome to University of Malaya Library Exhibition

Introduction

Hari Merdeka: The Spirit of Independent Malaysia

To commemorate the nation’s Independence Day, we invite you to celebrate the freedom and independence gained by reflecting or reminiscing the history of the country from its embryo stage to what is now a transformed and thriving global nation.

The Merdeka celebration also serves as a reminder to all Malaysians to appreciate the struggles and sacrifices that our Founding Fathers, leaders, and many other unsung heroes have undergone to liberate the country and fight for the independence that it craved for. 

Today, Malaysians celebrate Independence Day with the Merdeka parade, fireworks, and patriotic songs. A logo and theme; usually a slogan that promotes ethnic unity and cultural diversity are assigned each year.

During the Merdeka Parade, there would be various processions, military demonstrations, cultural performances, and other interesting events to fill the day. Ordinary folks from all walks of life would stand by the roadside, cheerfully waving the country’s flags.

The Embryo Stage

The Neolithic Man

The cave dwellers were the earliest men of whom the archaeologists have found traces in Malaya.

A page from the book 'A history of Malaya for schools' - Skeleton

 

These stone tools have been carefully shaped, sharpened and polished. The great majority of them are adzes. An adze is a carpenter's tool with a cutting edge, rather like a chisel. These polished adzes tell us a great deal about the Neolithic people. They were made by skilled craftsmen with plenty of time to spare.  It is thought in fact that they built quite large villages on riverbanks and that although they did use the caves and rock shelters, they lived in houses built on stilts as do many of the country people in Malaya today. 

A page from the book 'A history of Malaya for schools' - Neolithic bracelet

 

The Malay Archipelago 

After 1 AD, there existed in the Malay Archipelago a number of kingdom states such as Kedah, Langkasuka, Srivijaya, Majapahit, and Malacca. Among these early great kingdoms were the Malay kingdom of Melaka which had all kinds of traders from near and far sailing all the way to sell and buy their goods here. 

It is said that none of the people; that is, the cave dwellers and the Neolithic Men of prehistoric times are related to the Malays today. It is thought that the Malay originally came to South East Asia from somewhere in Central Asia between three and four thousand years ago. They came to live in the Malay Peninsular and in all the islands of the Archipelago.

From the earliest times, people from India and people from China have come to South East Asia. They came to trade, and some of them stayed to make their homes. 

A page from the book 'The story of Malaya and Singapore' - trade

 

A page from the book 'Malaysia : a pictorial history 1400 - 2004' - map of Malacca

 

A page from 'Malaysia at 50' : From the earliest times people from India and people from China have come to South East Asia. They came to trade, and some of them stayed to make their homes. 

 

A page from the book 'Malaysia - a pictorial history 1400 - 2004' - A'famosa

Cotton cloth from India was unloaded, camphor from Borneo, cloves from the Moluccas, pepper from Sumatra, Macasar and Bantam, nutmegs from the Banda islands, sandalwood from Timor, sugar, silks, porcelain, silver and pearls from China, perfumes and opium from Persia and Arab. The news of Malacca’s rich trade had even reached Portugal. In Europe meat had to be dried and salted so that it would keep through the long winter months. Spices made it taste better and so were much needed.  

 

A page from 'A history of Malaya and her Neighbours'

This was the beginning of the country’s colonization by Western powers. After the Portuguese, came the Dutch, followed by the English and the Japanese. The primary motive of colonization was economic because of the rich natural resources such as tin, rubber and other crops of commercial value. The British grip over the country began with the control of the Straits Settlements (Malacca, Penang Island and Singapore) followed by control over other states that were subsequently classified into the Federated Malay States and the unfederated Malay States including Sabah and Sarawak.

 

A page from 'Malaysia at 50'

By the 1800s, there were new immigrants coming into Malaya to feed the labour shortage in the plantations, mines, bureaucracy and the railway. Many also became general labourers in towns such as Kuala Lumpur.

The Malayan Emergency

 

Four Kuala Selangor home guards run for their firing positions in one of the events at the annual Selangor home guard shoot at The Batu Caves rifle range, near Kuala Lumpur. They are (from left) Mohd Nek, N. Gopal, Abu Bakar and Abdul Manap. Item Link

 

"The federation began fighting militant communism in the middle of June 1948. The enemy is still the Malayan Communist Party, an organisation formed in Singapore in the early 1920's.

The Communist Party of Malaya felt the British wanted to exclude them from power by manipulating the independence process. Within a few month, they organised an armed revolt against the Federation Government. The insurgency began with the murder of the three British planters on June 16, 1948. A state of emergency was declared the next day as the Communist began their terror campaign of violence and murder to create economic chaos and to cripple the new government.

For the next 12 years, an intense jungle war was fought by the British, Commonwealth and Malayan forces against the Communist terrorists. The arrival of Lt. Gen Sir Gerald Templer as British High Commissioner in 1952 signalled the beginning of the end of the emergency. Templer introduced counter-insurgency measures that effectively reduced the Communist impact. Finally, on July 31, 1960, the Emergency was lifted. 

Up over the emergency period in Malaya, a total of 9,313 terrorists had been eliminated, 6,215 killed, 1,221 captured and 1,877 surrendered and 2,724 had been wounded. Meanwhile, 2,445 civilians had been killed, 1,378 wounded and 805 are still missing."

 

A page from the book 'Road to nationhood : Malaysia 1941-1966'

The killing of three European planters by communists triggered the declaration of emergency by Sir Edward Gent, the British High Commissioner in Malaya.  

A page from the book 'Road to nationhood : Malaysia 1941-1966'

The funeral of Mr Archibald Nicolson, who was killed when his car overturned after he and his wife had run into a bandit ambush.

 

A page from the book 'Road to nationhood : Malaysia 1941-1966'

During the emergency, movement of people and goods was closely monitored to root out communist sympathisers who supplied food and information to the communist terrorists. Picture show a special constable examining the rattan baskets in the boot of a car at one of the many road checks near Kuala Lumpur during the anti-bandit month.

A page from the book 'Road to nationhood : Malaysia 1941-1966'

Typical operation by 848 Naval air squadron, showing the troops boarding a helicopter in the Malayan jungle in one of their forays against the communist terrorist.

 

Road to Independence

 

"Despite the early upheavals arising from the Malayan Union and the 1948 Federation of Malaya Agreement, the struggle towards nationhood gathered momentum. In 1946, the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) was formed and in 1949, the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA). On January 8, 1952, an UMNO-MCA Alliance came into being to resolve differences between the Malays and the Chinese and to provide a winning formula for the gaining of the electoral seats for the Federal Legislative Council. The MIC joined the Alliance on October 17, 1954. In the first federal election of 1955, the Alliance party won 51 of the 52 seats. Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, the UMNO President who was also head of the Alliance party, became Chief Minister of Malaya. 

Armed with an unquestionable mandate, the Alliance pursued the road to nationhood with increased determination and urgency. Representatives of the Malay Rulers and the Alliance held a series of talks in London in 1956. In the same year, Lord William Reid was appointed Chairman of an Independent Constitutional Commission which included nominated representatives from the British, Indian, Pakistani and Australian government. The Reid Commission eventually submitted a draft 'Merdeka' constitution in February 1957 and it was approved by the Federal Legislative Council in August 1957.

The Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957 was signed on August 5, 1957. At the stroke of midnight on August 30, 1957, the British flag was lowered at the Selangor Club Padang (Dataran Merdeka) and the Malayan flag was raised to proclaim to the world "we are now a nation!". On Saturday, August 31, 1957, watched by 25 000 people in the Merdeka Stadium, Tunku Abdul Rahman read the Proclamation of Independence and then raised his hand and shouted 'MERDEKA!", seven times and the crowd responded proudly." 

Click here to see the video on the 1957 in my heart: lowering of the Union Jack

 

 

A page from the book 'Road to nationhood : Malaysia 1941-1966'

The mile-long Selangor UMNO-MCA Alliance procession leaves the Selangor Club Padang on its way to the Istana Kuala Lumpur, to present a petition to the Sultan seeking his support for the Alliance party's demands on federal elections. (July 8, 1954)

 

A page from the book 'Road to nationhood : Malaysia 1941-1966'

A large crowd of women waiting to vote at a polling station (July 27, 1955)

 

A page from the book 'Road to nationhood : Malaysia 1941-1966'

The final signing ceremony of the Federation of Malaya Constitutional conference which took place at Lancaster House, London (February 8, 1956)


A page from the book 'Road to nationhood : Malaysia 1941-1966'

The independence agreement signed by the Malayan team led by Tunku Abdul Rahman and the British team led by the secretary of state for the colonies in London. (February 8, 1956)

 

A page from the book 'Road to nationhood : Malaysia 1941-1966'

The independence agreement signed by the Malayan team led by Tunku Abdul Rahman and the British team led by the secretary of state for the colonies in London. (February 8, 1956)

 

A page from the book 'Road to nationhood : Malaysia 1941-1966'

The British flag is lowered and the Malayan flag raised as part of the merdeka rally at the Selangor Club Padang. (August 31, 1957)

 

A page from the book 'Road to nationhood : Malaysia 1941-1966'

Tunku Abdul Rahman proclaiming independence for Malaya at the Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, after reading the declaration. (August 31, 1957)

Acknowledgement

References: 

Khoo, K.K. (ed.). (2008). Golden national days of Malaysia (1957-2007). Kuala Lumpur : ALF Promotions.

Mohd. Reduan Haji Asli. (2008). Pemberontakan bersenjata komunis di Malaysia (2nd ed.). Kuala Lumpur : Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. 

Moore, J. (1967). The story of Malaya and Singapore. Singapore : Donald Moore Press.

Moore, W.K. (2004). Malaysia : A pictorial history 1400-2004. Kuala Lumpur : Archipelago Press.

Moorhead, F. J. (1957). A history of Malaya and her neighbours. London : Longmans, Green & Co.

Morris, M. (1955). A history of Malaya for schools. Singapore : University of London Press.

Nazaruddin Hj Mohd Jali, Ma'rof Redzuan, Asnarulkhadi Abu Samah & Ismail Hj Mohd Rashid. (2009). Malaysian studies : nationhood and citizenship. Petaling Jaya : Prentice-Hall.

News Straits Times Press. (2007). Road to nationhood : Malaysia the formative years (1941-1966). Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia : NSTP Publication Centre.

Salleh Hussain. (1986). A history of Malaysia 1945-1981 : British Military administration to Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Muhammad. Kuala Lumpur : Malayan German Society. 

Shamsiah Muhamad, Mahfuzah Yusuf, Noriah Jusoh, Yatimah Rimun, Saemah Moktar, Sulasteri Abd Hamid, …Anizah Mohamed (Eds.).(2007). Citra merdeka 1957-2007 : buku terbitan khas sempena sambutan hari kemerdekaan ke-50 tahun 2007. Kuala Lumpur : Arkib Negara Malaysia.
The Star Online. 1957 in my heart: lowering of the Union Jack. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g5nuvR2IAM

Wong, F. L.(1965). New Malaysian history. Kuala Lumpur : Geetha.