Jalan Merdeka exhibition at Carcosa and Seri Negara

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Have you been to Carcosa and Seri Negara? Both are buildings of significant historical significance. I was invited the Jalan Merdeka launching yesterday evening. It was an event that I would not want to miss. Especially one which is related to our country’s road towards independence. Aptly titled Jalan Merdeka exhibition, it is showcasing never-before-seen artefacts of the untold history of Malaya’s road to Merdeka (independence). Within the same room that sealed Malaysia’s independence 60 years, ago, Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan Tuanku Muhriz ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir signed a document to launch the Jalan Merdeka exhibition at Carcosa Seri Negara. After the signing, all guests were treated to a vibrant display of fireworks sponsored by the Japanese Embassy. Did you know that the Japanese community and government contributed a similar fireworks display on Aug 31, 1957 in celebration of Merdeka? WOW.

The exhibition is starting on 1st September and it will be open to the public for one month, complete with a programme of activities. Admission is free and we could visit it from 8am to 5pm. Just Waze or Google Map for Carcosa Seri Negara to drive there. Jalan Merdeka will go beyond the official story of Malaysia’s independence. It will also explore rarely-told perspectives and this include even those of the labour communities and opposition forces and even the impact of the Cold War. I listened attentively to the guide who explained the history as if she was there during those days. It was very interesting and helps the understanding much better. For example, how rubber plantations and Indian labourers from India engaged and how many suffered and 1.2 million Indian labourers died due to harsh working conditions. These labourers contributed significantly towards the Malaysia of today.

Some time back, a close friend told about the significance of Carcosa Seri Negara and we wanted to enjoy a scone and a cup of tea but we never did drop by. Carcosa Seri Negara used to be a luxury hotel with two colonial mansions, one named Carcosa, the other Seri Negara. Both these mansions have been vacant for many years and now, The Asian Heritage Museum (AHM) has been granted tenancy of the Carcosa and Seri Negara mansions. AHM will be using it as a museum and for performing arts and cultural event space. There will also be a resource centre on the history of the building and more. As a Malaysian, I think the exhibition provides a bigger sense of nationalism and pride. Regardless of your political beliefs, after reading through rows and rows of explanation, I can safely say that those views are just facts based on history, told from many different perspectives. It is not just from the party in power or just one sided opposition point of view. Do enjoy it while it is still open. Cheers.

written on 31st August 2017

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