Normally, how are we going to spend weekends is an interesting topic as you may know what the personality the people are or how is his or her lifestyle would be. As for me, to spend my weekend by visiting some historical sites would be the most amazing one. Many local people would mention that history is a boring subject, or perhaps questioning the existing of history subject in SPM and STPM. In this case, we should think the reasons behind these questions. Are that because of the dull content, the read and memorize style teaching method or other conditions? In order to teach history in an interesting way, do we ever think of move the content into a real style?
I visited 4 memorials of prime ministers in Kuala Lumpur in 2019. Disappointingly, there were only a few visitors although with free admission. How ironically the shopping complexes were full-occupied, congested traffic on road, but the historical venues were quiet as u could even hear the echo. Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Memorial and Tun Hussein Onn Memorial are nearby to Bank Negara Museum which the places are quite strategic. The memorial of first prime minister formerly known as his official residence should be recommended for those history teachers when they are teaching the progress of Malaya gained independence. This was because the ground floor of memorial displayed artifacts, documents, newspaper cuttings, images related to the independence of our beloved country. In another hand, the first and second floor exhibited the Tunku and his wife’s biographies, costumes, awards, trophies and other historical items. If the history classes can be conducted in this space, it would be lively and more ideal as teachers can use the artifacts as the connecting point to explain the whole progress rather than read out the context on textbook. I still remembered the number of cats outside the memorial was more than the visitors on that weekend. Yet, I felt very sad as are we Malaysian really care about of our nation’s past, especially those who contributed much our country rather than window shopping during leisure?
Sometimes, the scope of history is too wide to be fully covered. Memorials as another medium of teaching can solve these problems. Likewise, we may approach nearer to look into what would be the lifestyle of second prime minister by the decoration of furniture in the sixties or seventies and the architecture of the residence. For example, when we visit Tun Abdul Razak Memorial, we get the chance to look at the bedroom which belonged to the fifth prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak. The room was placed with a cabinet, a bed and air conditioner. It was quite interesting as the former prime minister got his own bedroom while his younger siblings had to share another bedroom among themselves.
Tun Hussein Onn Memorial also plays the same role. As the history textbooks may not so focus on third prime minister’s contribution, do not mean that his part should be forgotten. Furthermore, the new memorial has been constructed by applying green building technology which won’t bring harm to the environment as well. The memorial is simpler compared with those two mentioned above but the design is more contemporary. Although the building consists of four floors, but the memorial locates at first floor. At that particular floor, we may know the biography of Tun, his favourite books, medals and others while the other floors are mostly functioning as art spaces. The old memorial also being utilized as it has been renovated into Memorial Negarawan, which is an amazing spot as it introduces leaders regardless their races or ideologies.
As for Gallery Sri Perdana, the decoration or equipment shows the rapid development of the nation during 1980s. The gallery used to be the fourth Prime minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s official residence from 1983 till 1999. At there, we may glance through how a prime minister can complete daily tasks in his residence as much as possible because it consists laundry room, barber room and carpentry room which is his interest. Furthermore, the gallery also consists banquet room which enabled Tun to host dinner with overseas guests. Hence, the kitchen also displays the model of exquisite cupcakes. Perhaps, the residence was not just only a residence. It represented the progress of a developing nation which aimed high. It would be quite encouraging for younger generations to feel be involving how can improve our country better.
In a conclusion, memorials play important role in our country as they commemorate the contributions of our fellow leaders. To teach history in a lively way, it is important to let students to explore in memorials in order to realize that history is not only deal with dullness. Hence, tours to memorials should be conducted more by teachers or even government agencies as history is a saga that every resident in Malaysia should has known it.
Ong Theng Theng adalah siswa Universiti Malaya dalam jurusan Pengajian Tionghoa. Beliau adalah penulis yang terpilih dalam Liga Penulisan Artikel Pengajian Tinggi.