Malaysia’s National Monument (Tugu Negara)

The National Monument (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. It is the world’s tallest bronze freestanding sculpture grouping. Every year on 31 July on Warriors’ Day, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Prime Minister, . The concept of a national monument was mooted by Malaysia’s first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, who was inspired by the Marine Corps War Memorial during his visit to the United States in October 1960, before personally meeting Felix de Weldon for a favour to design the monument. Felix de Weldon contributed in creating Malaysia’s Tugu Negara (National Monument). He also designed the Iwo Jima Memorial located at Arlington, Washington DC. The sculpture depicts 7 figures, 5 of the figures [1. holding the Malaysian flag, 2. armed with a rifle and bayonet (left), 3. armed with a machine gun (right), 4. soldiers tending to fifth wounded compatriot] represents the victorious allied forces while the other 2 figures that lie on the ground represents that of the defeated communist forces. The predecessor of the National Monument is an interwar-era cenotaph originally erected by the colonial British administration on a 10m flat grass-covered ground on a roundabout adjoining Victory Avenue (now part of Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin) and Raja Road, close to the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station and Railway Administration Building. Originally intended to commemorate the Great War (1914–1918) and honour those from the British Malayan colonies who were killed in the war, the cenotaph’s inscription would later include fallen British Malayan soldiers of World War II (1939–1945) after the conclusion of World War II and resumption of British rule. Names of the fallen are engraved on the plaques of the cenotaph as a token of tribute to their sacrifices. In 1964, the cenotaph was moved from its original location to the site of the National Monument in Lake Gardens before a planned flyover connecting Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin and the Parliament roundabout was constructed over the original site. Transfer of the cenotaph was made possible by dismantling the structure into catalogued parts, allowing the structure to be transported in pieces and reassembled in its original form at the National Monument. Following its move, inscriptions were added to include fallen soldiers from the Malayan Emergency (1948–1960) and an archaic Malay translation of “To Our Glorious Dead”, “Untok Mengingati Jasa Pahlawan-pahlawan Yang Gugor” (“To Remember the Service of Warriors Who Have Fallen”).

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