Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur
Merdeka Square (Malay: Dataran Merdeka) is a square located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is situated in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. Literally Independence Square, it was formerly known as the Selangor Club Padang or simply the "Padang" and was used as the cricket green of the Selangor Club (now Royal Selangor Club). It was here the Union Flag was lowered and the Malayan flag hoisted for the first time at midnight (time: 12:00 AM) on 31 August 1957. Since then, Merdeka Square has been the usual venue for the annual Merdeka Parade (National Day Parade).
In the early days of Kuala Lumpur, the Chinese and Malay communities settled along the east bank of the Klang River. To the west of river was land originally owned by Yap Ah Loy and was used to plant vegetables. In 1880, the state capital of Selangor was moved from Klang to Kuala Lumpur by the colonial administration. Then the British Resident William Bloomfield Douglas decided that the government buildings and staff living quarters should be located to the west of the river to keep away from what he considered the unsanitary condition of the town and the possibility of uprising from the locals. The government offices and a new police headquarter were built on Bukit Aman, with accommodation for the police located on Barrack Road (now Jalan Tangsi and part of Jalan Raja). A patch of swampy and uneven ground immediately to the west of Klang River was then leveled and drained to be used as training ground for the police. This patch of land, originally named the Parade Ground, would become the Padang. Ten years later, a British Resident who was a keen cricketer then smoothed over the ground so that it may be used as a cricket ground.
In 1897, the government offices were relocated from Bukit Aman to the Sultan Abdul Samad Building overlooking the Padang. It is one of the most significant landmarks built by the British, and was designed by A.C. Norman, R. A. J. Bidwell, and A. B. Hubback in an Indo-Saracenic or Neo-Mughal style of architecture. This building housed the Selangor State Secretariat and later the Supreme Court before being abandoned for a number of years. It now houses the Ministry of Heritage, Culture and Arts.
The Padang used to belong to the Selangor Club and was used by the club for sports such as cricket and rugby. As the field is located in front of the government offices, it is also used for many national and civic events. In 1987, the Padang was taken back by City Hall and in return the Selangor Club was given a piece of land in Bukit Kiara.
On 31 August 1957, the Malayan flag was raised for the first time at midnight at the Padang.
The field at the Merdeka Square's immediate vicinity was officially renamed 'Dataran Merdeka' on 1 January 1990 in conjunction of Visit Malaysia Year 1990.
Surrounding the square are many buildings of historical interest. Just beside the square is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building currently the office of the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture of Malaysia. Opposite the square is the famous Royal Selangor Club Complex built in 1884 as a meeting place for high-ranking members of the British colonial society. To the South is the former National History Museum which used to house a vast collection of historical items. The collection has recently been moved to Muzium Negara. Next to it is the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery which tells the story of Kuala Lumpur through miniature models and The Spectacular City Model Show. To the North is the St. Mary's Anglican Cathedral, currently the Diocese of West Malaysia and the see of the Bishop of West Malaysia.
A 95-metre flagpole, one of the tallest in the world, marks that spot with a flat, round black marble plaque. It is located at the southern end of the square. Nearby is also the original Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, which is still operational. However the main hub has recently been moved to KL Sentral in 2001.
Merdeka Square is the usual venue for the annual Merdeka Parade (National Day Parade). It is frequently used as the location for political rallies as well as other events. Merdeka Square was the starting line of The Amazing Race Asia 1.
The square is accessible within walking distance west of Masjid Jamek LRT Station.
- J.M. Gullick (1983). The Story of Kuala Lumpur, 1857–1939. Eastern Universities Press (M). pp. 35–36. ISBN 978-967-908-028-5.
- Gullick, J.M. (1992). "The Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad". Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 65 (1): 27–38. JSTOR 41493197.
- "Dataran Merdeka". welcome-kl.com. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- Debbie Chan (2006-08-31). "So closely linked to birth of a nation" (PDF). The Star. Retrieved 2007-02-23.
- BBC NEWS, Malaysia marks 50 years as nation
- SkyscraperPage http://www.skyscraperpage.com/cities/?buildingID=2342. Extracted 30 March 2006
- "KL Sentral". KL Sentral. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
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