What 'MERDEKA' Means To Me

Posted by shloke 27 August 2010
'Hari Merdeka' aka Independence Day. If someone speaks about Merdeka, my mind went completely blank (well almost), and then I kept thinking. It seems to me I do have a faint recollection on the true meaning of Merdeka. OK, I think I remember some keywords from my Senior 5 History book - British Colonial Rule, Malaya and Tunku Abdul Rahman. My History teacher portrays the British as bad hat and enemy of the state. LOL! When you talk about Independence Day, the first thing that comes to mind is the 1996 alien invasion movie starring Bill Pullman and Will Smith.

Well, to be honest, I lost my 'Semangat Merdeka' (translation: Merdeka Spirit) the day I left senior high school. I remember vividly those days. Students were sucking up a daily dose of brainwashing. Endless Merdeka patriotic songs and LOVE ME, Malaysian speech. We shouted MERDEKA! MERDEKA! MERDEKA! every single day up to 31st August. I thought that was kind of silly. Kind of North Korea. I bet some of you'll be MAD at me...BIG TIME. "Hey you little prick!!!! You have no respect for your motherland. Kurang asam punya budak!"

This year, Malaysia celebrates her 53rd birthday. The theme is '1Malaysia Menjana Transformasi' (translation: 1Malaysia Transforming the Nation). I'm a SUPER NOOB on these finer details. Luckily I was inspired by my friend Lam Ching Fu. Everything changes (well almost). Our well travelled buddy (now in Curitiba, Brazil) has decided to commemorate Merdeka in his own special way. It is INSPIRATIONAL, ENLIGHTENING and HEART WARMING to see his LOVE for Malaysia. It has arouse my patriotic spirit! He puts me to shame...this ungrateful mylo. Read THIS and see what I mean.

There is nothing to lose but everything to gain. I TOO WANNA celebrate MERDEKA in my own CREATIVE way :) I decided to visit Tugu Negara aka National Monument to better understand the true meaning of Merdeka and FREEDOM. And I captured these photos. Selamat Hari Merdeka my comrades! If I have offended you, please accept my humble apologies. Saya menyusun 10 jari meminta maaf. Stay COOL and be COOL. Remember to check out Petronas 2010 Merdeka TVAds (TVA) at the bottom of this page.

Location: Tugu Negara aka National Monument, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Camera: Nikon D60 [46mm f/8.0 manual 100 ISO 1/250 sec]

This is my best shot of the day. The monument of freedom aka 'Tugu Negara' (translation: National Monument). A picture is worth a thousand words. I can only think of one word right now and that is "FREEDOM".

And because you protect us every day, we Malaysians owe you our sincerest gratitude, respect, support and comfort. Our warriors never die. Instead, they live forever in the hearts of the people whose lives they saved. We Malaysians owe it to our founding fathers to stay united.

According to Wikipedia, Tugu Negara is a sculpture that commemorates those who died in Malaysia's struggle for freedom, principally against the Japanese occupation during World War II and the Malayan Emergency, which lasted from 1948 until 1960. Is is the work of sculptor Felix de Weldon, who also did Washington’s Iwo Jima Monument and it is regarded as the largest bronze monument grouping in the world.

中文: 马来西亚独立日 English: Malaysia's Independence Day

Location: Tugu Negara aka National Monument, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Camera: Nikon D60 [55mm f/7.1 manual 200 ISO 1/160 sec]

The national flower of Malaysia is the five-petal Bunga Raya aka hibiscus. This orange colored flower caught my attention. The details in the petal veins blow me away.

According to allMalaysiainfo, bunga raya is found in abundance throughout the country, and for this very reason, was chosen to be the national flower (in 1960) by Malaysia's first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman. There are many varieties of the hibiscus, but the five-petaled Hibiscus rosa-sinensis was chosen above the others, as the most symbolically relevant. The five petals of the bunga raya symbolise the Rukunegara (the Five Principles of Nationhood), while the colour red represents courage.

中文: 马来西亚国花 美丽 English: Malaysia's national flower, beautiful

Location: Tugu Negara aka National Monument, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Camera: Nikon D60 [30mm f/5.0 manual 200 ISO 1/160 sec]

The National Emblem and Coat of Arms of Malaysia (Jata Negara in Malay) is a coat of arms comprising a shield or escutcheon, two tigers for supporters, a crescent and fourteen point star for a crest and a motto.

The motto of the arms, located below the shield, consists of a banner with the phrase "Unity is Strength" (Malay: Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu). We must take care of our unity. UNITY is a complex and deep-lying issue in Malaysia. Agence France Presse (AFP) published an article - "Malaysia's Races Live Peacefully - But Separately". It was dated 2005. How far have we come and where do we go from here? You tell me.

Location: Tugu Negara aka National Monument, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Camera: Nikon D60 [55mm f/7.1 manual 100 ISO 1/200 sec]

It was an amazing experience standing right next to Tugu Negara - one of the largest grouping bronze statue in the world.

Amazing feat, but not without controversy. According to TheSun, after years of hosting the Warrior's Day celebrations, the National Monument has now been declared as an "unsuitable" venue by the National Fatwa Council.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom said the venue was found unsuitable by the council as the monument was in the form of human statues.

中文: 保护我们的国家 English: Protect our nation

Location: Tugu Negara aka National Monument, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Camera: Nikon D60 [20mm f/7.1 manual 100 ISO 1/200 sec]

I ♥ PEACE. Do you? Compared to the rest of the world Malaysia is a peaceful country. Our motherland is not exposed to natural disasters on a daily basis and we don't live in war zones. Yes we should be thankful for these blessings.

I'm waiting for the day when more open minded Malaysians who will champion freedom of thought, rational thinking and who value highly the dignity of fellow humans.

中文: 我们都是一家人 English: We are one family

Location: Tugu Negara aka National Monument, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Camera: Nikon D60 [40mm f/8.0 manual 100 ISO 1/250 sec]

According to Wikipedia, the original national monument was not the one in the form of human figures but was a cenotaph that was situated in the middle of a roundabout. The British administration set up the first monument, a 10m flat grass-covered ground to commemorate the wars and honour the fallen heroes from World War I, World War II and the Malayan Emergency.

中文: 在纪念 谢谢英雄 English: In memorial, thank you, heroes

Location: Tugu Negara aka National Monument, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Camera: Nikon D60 [22mm f/6.3 manual 100 ISO 1/160 sec]

This is part of the white circular walls surrounding the National Monument - with X-shaped concrete blocks and star buttons. I would like to call it "Wall of Fame".

Location: Tugu Negara aka National Monument, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Camera: Nikon D60 [35mm f/6.3 manual 100 ISO 1/160 sec]

A simple memorial park located at the far end of Kuala Lumpur Lake Garden.

My Conclusion: We may have our differences in race, religion and politics, but we must find a common cause by which we become more socially united as one. Well it is easier said than done. Time alone will tell. In the meantime, we just got to hold it together. Happy Merdeka to all my readers. 独立日快乐!

Great news! A Malaysian Photo and Travel Blog is now accessible on the ever-popular social networking site, Facebook.com! If you are on Facebook, I would love it if you would become a fan of my official page.

Last updated August 28th 2010 (10:36 p.m.)

Hari Merdeka 2010 Parade - Directions, Getting There & Maps:

The Bukit Jalil Putra Stadium will host the 2010 Merdeka Parade for the first time, with only a military parade with the addition of a human graphic display by members of Soka Gakkai Malaysia on the Stadium stands, the first time it was done here since the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

By LRT Station:
From KL Sentral station, take the Ampang Line LRT to Bukit Jalil LRT station.

By Car:
From the KL-Seremban Highway, turn into the MRR2 interchange and head towards the KESAS Highway. Exit at the Sri Petaling (Endah Parade) junction and turn left.

Note: Walking directions from Bukit Jalil LRT Station to Bukit Jalil Putra Stadium. Click on the thumbnail to load a larger version of the map.

Hari Merdeka 2010 Parade - Google Maps:

Hari Merdeka 2010 - Petronas Merdeka TVADS:

I'm a strong believer in giving unity a chance. Do you still remember this phrase? "Our children are colour blind. Shouldn't we keep them that way?" Or perhaps Tan Hong Ming in love? This multi-award winning ads (including Cannes Lions Gold in the film category) was directed by former executive creative director at Leo Burnett, Allahyarham Yasmin Ahmad.

To Allahyarham Yasmin: Thanks for making humanity cool again.

Hari Merdeka aka Independence Day - Quick Facts:

  1. Hari Merdeka (Independence Day) is a national day of Malaysia commemorating the independence of the Federation of Malaya from British colonial rule, celebrated on August 31
  2. The effort for independence was spearheaded by Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, who led a delegation of ministers and political leaders of Malaya in negotiations with the British in London for Merdeka, or independence along with the first president of the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) Tun Dato Sir Tan Cheng Lock and fifth President of Malaysian Indian Congress Tun V.T. Sambanthan.
  3. Once it became increasingly clear that the Communist threat posed during the Malayan Emergency was petering out, agreement was reached on February 8, 1956, for Malaya to gain independence from the British Empire.
  4. The Federation of Malaysia, comprising the States of Malaya, North Borneo (later renamed Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore was to be officially declared on the date August 31, 1963, on the 6th anniversary of Malayan independence.

Note: Quick facts are obtained from Wikipedia.

Hari Merdeka aka Independence Day - Read More/Useful Links:


  1. fufu Says:
  2. petronas always has the best ads for all festive seasons :)

    i still havent visited tugu negara!!!!! shame on me too >< but anyway you have a good post here... totally enjoy reading it...and got myself informed some facts...thanks alex XD also nice pictures! last image is cute

    it's my honour to have my name appeared here :) happy happy merdeka!

  3. Rafael Lam Says:
  4. Thanks for introduce us what is Merdeka!
    I know more about Fu Fu Merdeka Project too! haha!
    That's very educational! Many countries have their independence day (I remember that movie...), Hong Kong & Macau only have handover day... Macau is on 20 of December, they change the name to estabilish day or something...
    Merdeka will be easier for me to remember, I will celebrate it too, because 31st August is my birthday!

  5. micki Says:
  6. Happy Independence Day, Malaysia! Great shots! Love your first picture and the hibiscus picture turned out perfect! Hibiscus is my favorite flower and good to know it is Malaysia's national flower! Beautiful choice!

  7. Shelyn Says:
  8. Good for you and fufu to regain your spirit of Merdeka! I still can't persuade myself to love my country with all the unfairness happening in this country. Can't be bothered much :p

    Wow.. Tuku Negara reminded me of my 3 year old photo taken in Tuku Negara during CNY with my Chinese costume on! Miss the place so much. Your photo of Tuku Negara is great!

    Nice write up of Merdeka! But I still don't care about this day :p

    Ok la.. call me betrayer :p

    Happy long weekend! This is the only thing I like about Merdeka.

  9. Erika Toh Says:
  10. I love beautiful photos and interesting articles so this means I love your blog too~ ♥ :) Happy 53rd Independence Day to you too~ Peace~ (^_^)v

  11. Happy birthday Malaysia!
    Already 53 years...

    We've come a long way...
    But it looks like we still have a long way to go...

    The new ad is so long 3 mins plus?!
    I prefer Yasmin's version: short and straight to the point.

  12. lechua Says:
  13. hey that's quite patriotic of u to take the day to recollect the historical days. n the first photo is great! lemme check out fufu's post now.

  14. Happy walker Says:
  15. nice blog.. have a view of my blog when free.. http://www.lonelyreload.blogspot.com .. do leave me some comment / guide if can.. if interested can follow my blog...

  16. lol commended on the wrong post, nice post about merdeka !

  17. shloke Says:
  18. fufu,

    Petronas ads R.O.C.K.S! Tugu Negara is not too far - within walking distance from KL Lake Garden.

    I'm inspired by fufuism. Happy belated Merdeka!

    Rafael Lam,

    I'll always remember your birthday. Merdeka Day is Rafael's day :)


    Thanks! It was a beautiful day at National Monument - sunny day and plenty of natural light.


    As mentioned earlier, there is still hope for Malaysia. But we can't do this alone. Let's all of us do whatever we can for a better Malaysia.

    Erika Toh,

    Hi and welcome to my photo and travel blog! I like your blog too. Your Merdeka series is BEAUTIFUL!!!


    Yep, Happy Birthday Malaysia! I also like Yasmin's ads - short, sweet and straight to the point!



    Mt Lonely,

    Hi there and welcome to my photo and travel blog! I'm checking out your blog now :)

    KL Destination Wedding Photographer,

    Welcome my friend! Thanks for your kind words!

    Cheers to all!

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