Revisiting history: The bombing of the National Monument

2019-07-31

News in Kuala Lumpur / Kuala Lumpur

Malaysians know and are proud of the National Monument, the impressive sculpture in Kuala Lumpur that commemorates those who lost their lives in Malaysia’s struggle for freedom. Malaysia’s first premier Tunku Abdul Rahman had initiated the construction of the monument back in the 1960s after being inspired by the Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington DC.

Malaysians know and are proud of the National Monument, the impressive sculpture in Kuala Lumpur that commemorates those who lost their lives in Malaysia’s struggle for freedom.

Malaysia’s first premier Tunku Abdul Rahman had initiated the construction of the monument back in the 1960s after being inspired by the Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington DC.

Felix de Weldon, the creator of the memorial, was hired to design and craft the statues of the National Monument.

An interesting bit of trivia is that the face of the figure holding up the Jalur Gemilang is actually based on a young Tunku Abdul Rahman.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Prime Minister and the heads of the armed forces traditionally visit this site on Warriors Day every July 31 to lay garlands at the memorial.

But what you may be unaware of is that the current monument is not the same as the one that was originally erected in 1966.

Damaged by terrorist bombing

The original statue was badly damaged by a terrorist bombing during the Emergency period. The year was 1975 and the Communist insurgency was still in full swing at that time.

The previous year had seen numerous attacks by the insurgents. In a brazen attack in broad daylight, the then Inspector-General of Police, Abdul Rahman bin Hashim, had been brutally gunned down in his car in Jalan Tun Perak.

Then, on Aug 26, 1975, shortly before daybreak at 5.00am, a massive explosion was heard in the vicinity of what is now Taman Tugu.

The retired premier, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was in his residence nearby at the time the blast occurred.

A bomb planted by Communist operatives had gone off and destroyed the bronze statue that had stood proud.

Rushing to the scene, the police encountered four insurgents and exchanged gunfire till the latter fled.

Due to the explosion, one of the bronze figures collapsed off the pedestal and the remaining three lost their heads.

The bomb disposal team found two more bombs planted at the scene but thankfully they failed to go off.

Rebuilding the monument

The then Home Affairs minister, Ghazali Shafie, expressed outrage that the insurgents would stoop so low as to attack a memorial site dedicated to soldiers who had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The monument had been erected at a cost of RM2.5 million, nearly half of which was donated by the public.

Two weeks after the attack, Prime Minister Abdul Razak initiated a public campaign to raise funds to repair the monument.

The fund eventually reached the desired RM1 million goal and Christopher Carney, a lecturer at the Mara Institute of Technology, was tasked with restoring the National Monument to its former glory.

Tunku Abdul Rahman would go on to say that the monument had gained new meaning through its scars: as a symbol of the people’s defiance towards the Communist insurgents and their belief in a sovereign and free Malaysia.

So, this Warriors Day, do take your family to pay a visit to the National Monument and take a moment to consider just how much blood and sacrifice was necessary for the peace that Malaysians enjoy today.

Source : FMT news

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