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New Merdeka MRT station steeped in history
Monday 28 August 2017
Kuala Lumpur
A collaboration between RapidKL, The Malay Mail and RebeccaSaw.com
A commuter looks at the iconic photo of Tunku Abdul Rahman. — Malay Mail pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 — Apart from its sleek, modern interiors and historical location, a large and impressive black and white photograph is one of the main attractions of the spanking new Merdeka MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) station in Kuala Lumpur.

The iconic picture features Malaysia’s founding father, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, with his right arm raised, declaring independence of the Federation of Malaya from the British Empire at Stadium Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, at 9.30am on Aug 31, 1957.

Complementing the priceless, patriotic photo is a mural of the five principles of Rukunegara (national tenets) — belief in God; loyalty to King and country; upholding the constitution; rule of law; and good behaviour and morality. All these are etched and engraved on the wall. The three-dimensional effect it gives makes for a stunning artwork.

Which explains why many commuters tend to stop in this part (B1 or upper concourse) of the underground station to take photos of these arresting visuals.

The “independence” (Merdeka) theme of the station’s interior continues on the ceiling above the escalator leading down from the upper concourse level to the lower concourse level. It showcases a pattern of the arms of the 14-pointed star on the flag of Malaysia. At the lower concourse level, each pillar features the flag and emblem of a Malaysia state.

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    Located underneath Jalan Hang Jebat, the station is connected to the Plaza Rakyat LRT (Light Rail Transit) station through a 180m pedestrian walkway. This can be accessed via exit C at the lower concourse level. The link connects the paid areas of both stations, allowing commuters to transfer between the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang line and the LRT Ampang as well as the LRT Sri Petaling lines with ease.
    It is also located within walking distance (approximately 600m) of the Hang Tuah LRT and monorail stations. The other exits — A and B — lead to the ground above.
    The former takes you right next to Stadium Negara — the country’s first indoor stadium which opened in 1962 — which has hosted several sporting events including the 1992 Asian Taekwondo Championships and Thomas/Uber Cup (also in 1992). The stadium was also a popular venue for concerts and it has seen such music greats as Sting, Eric Claption, Stevie Wonder, The Bee Gees, Kanye West and Kylie Minogue performing there.
    Just beside it is Stadium Merdeka, built specifically for the declaration of independence. With its ability to accommodate tens of thousands of people, the stadium soon became the venue of choice for major sports events as well as concerts by mega-stars like the late King of Pop Michael Jackson — who performed two sold-out concerts in 1996 to an audience of 55,000 each night — Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey.
    Other notable events held at Stadium Merdeka were the match between heavyweight boxers Muhammad Ali and Joe Bugner in1975 and the 1977 Southeast Asian Games.
    Because of its cultural importance, Stadium Merdeka was honoured with the Unesco Asia-Pacific Award for Excellence for Heritage Conservation in 2008.
    It is currently undergoing reconstruction work as part of the massive Merdeka PNB (Permodalan Nasional Berhad) 118 project, formerly known as KL118.
    Scheduled to be completed in 2019, the 118-storey, 682m skyscraper will be the tallest building in Malaysia and the third tallest in the world. It will comprise 400,000 sq m of residential, hotel and commercial space. All these a stone’s throw away from the Merdeka MRT station.
    Also close by are the Al-Bukhari Foundation mosque and Chin Woo Stadium, which sits on top of a hill overlooking Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown or Petaling Street. The mosque is adjacent to Victoria Institution, a secondary school for boys and one of the oldest schools in Kuala Lumpur founded in 1893.
    As for exit A, it is located on the north side of Jalan Hang Jebat near Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (C) Jalan Davidson, Hotel Olympic, YWCA and Wisma OCM. The latter is home to the Olympic Council of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur Dancers’ Association and Jazzercise Malaysia, among others.
    A little further up from here are the Methodist Boys’ Secondary School, Wesley Methodist Church and Wisma MABA, where there is a basketball stadium. It is the venue of the team sport for the 2017 Southeast Asian Games, commonly known as Kuala Lumpur 2017, which is on until Wednesday.
    About 150m from Wisma MABA is Lorong Hang Jebat. The Scouts Association of Malaysia, Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan Confucian and the Kuala Lumpur Chinese Methodist Church are on this street.
    In conjunction with the launch of the second phase of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT line last month, commuters enjoy a 50 per cent discount on MRT, LRT, monorail and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) fares.
    Senior citizens and students get a further 50 per cent discount on their already reduced rates. The promotion ends on Thursday.
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