National Monument (Malaysia)

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National Monument
(Tugu Negara)
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Tugu-Negara-Malaysia-03.jpg
For Malaysian military sacrifices during the struggle for freedom.
Location 3°8′55.9″N101°41′1.8″E / 3.148861°N 101.683833°E / 3.148861; 101.683833 Coordinates: 3°8′55.9″N101°41′1.8″E / 3.148861°N 101.683833°E / 3.148861; 101.683833
Designed by Felix de Weldon

The National Monument 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 located in the Federal capital, Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian Houses of Parliament are situated near the monument.

Malaysia Federal constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia

Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia. The federal constitutional monarchy consists of 13 states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand and maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. East Malaysia shares land and maritime borders with Brunei and Indonesia and a maritime border with the Philippines and Vietnam. Kuala Lumpur is the national capital and largest city while Putrajaya is the seat of federal government. With a population of over 30 million, Malaysia is the world's 44th most populous country. The southernmost point of continental Eurasia, Tanjung Piai, is in Malaysia. In the tropics, Malaysia is one of 17 megadiverse countries, with large numbers of endemic species.

Japanese occupation of Malaya Empire of Japan military rule in contemporary Singapore and Malaysia

Malaya was gradually occupied by the Japanese between 8 December 1941 and the Allied surrender at Singapore on 16 February 1942. The Japanese remained in occupation until their surrender to the Allies in 1945. The first Japanese garrison in Malaya to lay down their arms was in Penang on 2 September 1945 aboard HMS Nelson.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.


It is the world's tallest bronze freestanding sculpture grouping. [1] Every year on 31 July on Warriors' Day , the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Prime Minister, and the heads of the Malaysian Armed Forces and the Royal Malaysia Police pay their respects to the fallen heroes by laying garlands at the monument.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong monarch and head of state of Malaysia

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, also known as the Supreme Head or the King, is the monarch and head of state of Malaysia. The office was established in 1957, when the Federation of Malaya gained independence from the United Kingdom. Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with an elected monarch as head of state. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is one of the few elected monarchs in the world.

Prime minister most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system

A Prime Minister is the head of a cabinet and the leader of the ministers in the executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary or semi-presidential system. A prime minister is not a head of state or chief executive officer of their respective nation, rather they are a head of government, serving typically under a monarch in a hybrid of aristocratic and democratic government forms.

Malaysian Armed Forces combined military forces of Malaysia

The Malaysian Armed Forces, the military of Malaysia, consists of three branches, namely the Malaysian Army, Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Royal Malaysian Navy. Since June 20. 2018, Gen.Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin is the Chief of Malaysian Armed Forces.


Kuala Lumpur Cenotaph

The Cenotaph near the National Monument. Cenotaph, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - 20080106.jpg
The Cenotaph near the National Monument.

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.

Interwar period Period between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II

In the context of the history of the 20th century, the interwar period was the period between the end of the First World War in November 1918 and the beginning of the Second World War in September 1939.

Cenotaph "empty tomb" or monument erected in honor of a person whose remains are elsewhere

A cenotaph is an empty tomb or a monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere. It can also be the initial tomb for a person who has since been reinterred elsewhere. Although the vast majority of cenotaphs honour individuals, many noted cenotaphs are instead dedicated to the memories of groups of individuals, such as the lost soldiers of a country or of an empire.

British Malaya Former set of states on Malay Peninsula

The term "British Malaya" loosely describes a set of states on the Malay Peninsula and the island of Singapore that were brought under British control between the 18th and the 20th centuries. Unlike the term "British India", which excludes the Indian princely states, British Malaya is often used to refer to the Malay States under indirect British rule as well as the Straits Settlements that were under the sovereignty of the British Crown.

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").

An overpass is a bridge, road, railway or similar structure that crosses over another road or railway. An overpass and underpass together form a grade separation. Stack interchanges are made up of many overpasses.

Malaysian Houses of Parliament seat of the Parliament of Malaysia

The Malaysian Houses of Parliament is a building complex where the Malaysian Parliament assembles. The structure is located at the Lake Gardens in Kuala Lumpur, close to the Malaysian National Monument.

Malayan Emergency guerrilla war from 1948 to 1960

The Malayan Emergency was a guerrilla war fought in pre- and post-independence Federation of Malaya, from 1948 until 1960. The belligerents were the Commonwealth armed forces against the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA), the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP).

The monument is depicted on several Malaysian 1 Ringgit banknotes issued between 1982 and 1989. [2] [3]

National Monument

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.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Malaysian politician

Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah, ; was a Malaysian politician who served as the first Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaya from 1955 to 1957, before becoming Malaya's first Prime Minister after independence in 1957. He remained Prime Minister following the formation of Malaysia in 1963, when Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore merged with Malaya, until his resignation in 1970.

Marine Corps War Memorial architectural structure

The United States Marine Corps War Memorial is a national memorial located in Arlington County, Virginia, in the United States. Dedicated in 1954, it is located in Arlington Ridge Park with George Washington Memorial Parkway, near the Ord-Weitzel Gate to Arlington National Cemetery and the Netherlands Carillon. The war memorial is dedicated to all U.S. Marine Corps personnel who died in the defense of the United States since 1775.

Felix de Weldon American sculptor

Felix Weihs de Weldon was an Austrian-born American sculptor. His most famous pieces include the United States Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington County, Virginia and the Malaysian National Monument (1966) in Kuala Lumpur.

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 National Monument was completed and officially opened on 8 February 1966, by Ismail Nasiruddin of Terengganu, then Yang di-Pertuan Agong. It was proclaimed a memorial park dedicated to the 11,000 people who died during the 12-year Malayan Emergency (1948–1960). Thereafter, a wreath-laying ceremony takes place at the monument every 31 July on Warriors Day. De Weldon was later conferred with the title Tan Sri, the Malaysian equivalent of a high-ranking knighthood.

On 27 August 1975, the monument suffered extensive damage due to an explosion set off by a communist terrorist. It has since been restored to its original state with the renovated statues unveiled on 11 May 1977. A fence was then erected and the complex was declared a protected area between sunset and dawn. Every day at dawn, a soldier raises the national flag and lowers it at dusk.

Although Warriors' Day commemoration services are no longer officially held at the National Monument, Remembrance Day ceremonies continue to take place there. Pictured is Remembrance Sunday at the National Monument's cenotaph on 13 November 2011. KL Cenotaph.jpg
Although Warriors' Day commemoration services are no longer officially held at the National Monument, Remembrance Day ceremonies continue to take place there. Pictured is Remembrance Sunday at the National Monument's cenotaph on 13 November 2011.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Jamil Khir Baharom has stated that from 2010, the Warriors' Day commemoration service would be held elsewhere after Malaysia's National Fatwa Council guidelines declared the statues "un-Islamic" and potentially idolatrous. Defence Minister Zahid Hamidi added that a new "Warrior's Square" would be built in the country's administrative capital Putrajaya. When asked why the decision was made only after almost four decades of celebrating Warriors' Day at the present site, Jamil evaded comment, saying "Alhamdulillah, we are serious in solving this issue". [4] A similar sentiment would later be echoed in September 2016 by Harussani Zakaria, a Perak-based mufti, who declared that the construction of the monument had been a "big sin" and "idolatrous", because building monuments in the shape of humans was haram in Islam. [5]


Commissioned in 1963 and constructed in 1966, the sculpture that stands as a centrepiece of the monument is 15 meters (49.21 feet) tall, made of bronze and was designed by Austrian sculptor Felix de Weldon, who was also responsible for the Marine Corps War Memorial in Virginia, United States.

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.

Overall the monument depicts the victory of the forces of democracy, peace and freedom over that of communism. The sculpture was then cast at a foundry in Rome at a cost of RM600,000.

Each of the bronze figures symbolises leadership, suffering, unity, vigilance, strength, courage and sacrifice. The stones that the soldiers are standing on were imported from the small coastal city of Karlshamn in South Eastern Sweden.

The granite base of the sculpture bears the Malayan Coat of Arms, flanked on either side by inscriptions in English, Latin script, and also in Malay in Jawi script:

Dedicated to the heroic fighters in the cause of peace and freedom,

May the blessing of Allah be upon them

Jalan Tugu

Jalan Tugu, originally known as Cenotaph Road, refers to a road which was laid out following the completion of the cenotaph and adjoins the original cenotaph roundabout. The road was renamed to a direct Malay translation of the English name following a street renaming campaign during the 1960s, and continues to carry this name, as of 2013. The road runs parallel to the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, and is located opposite the Railway Administration Building and National Mosque.

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  1. "Tugu Negara". Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
  4. "National Monument 'unsuitable' for Warrior's Day". The Sun Daily. 1 April 2010. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  5. Shakira Buang (6 September 2016). "Perak mufti says 'idolatrous' Tugu Negara a big sin" . Retrieved 12 November 2018.