A historic building that has undergone extensive renovations now stands magnificently overlooking the Padang Pahlawan, which has once dictated the victorious history of a struggle; facing the blue waters of the Straits of Malacca - diving through its deepest sea-bed of memories on the legacy of a once great Malay Sultanate. This is the building which safeguards many precious secrets in its vaults, today known as the Independence Declaration Memorial.
The Independence Declaration Memorial was established on the mutual collaboration between the Malacca State Government and the National Archives of Malaysia. The Memorial building which was formerly the Malacca Club had undergone renovation works carried out by the Malacca state Public Works Department under the purview of the National Archives of Malaysia. The total renovation cost of RM1,382,971 was funded by the Malacca State Government. Located on a 4,333 square metre area, the Memorial building is surrounded by historical remnants and structures such as the Famosa Fort, St. Paul's Hill, Padang Pahlawan Square and the Cultural Museum which is a replica model of the Malacca Malay Sultanate Palace.
The establishment of the Independence Declaration Memorial befits the time and venue in commemorating an era of the struggle for independence. Moreover, it is in a strategic position as it is surrounded by the nation's significant historical elements.
An initial proposal by the Malacca State Government was to name the building as the Tunku Abdul Rahman Memorial, but that was later changed to the Independence Declaration Memorial. This was in due respect to a significant event which was declaration of the Independence date of the Federation of Malaya on 31 August 1957, by the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj that took place at Padang Pahlawan in Bandar Hilir on 20 February 1956.
In conjunction with the 28th Independence Day celebration, the Independence Declaration Memorial was officially opened by YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, the Father of Independence on 31 August 1985.
The Memorial exists as a reflection of a page in history from the struggle for independence to the great moments at Padang Pahlawan in Bandar Hilir. The effort is aimed as a platform for the present and future generations to learn and understand the nation's history of struggle for independence ts through actual perspective. The objective of this initiative is to advocate the younger generation to appreciate, respect and emulate sacrifices made by their forefathers in the struggles for freedom. It will also indirectly inculcate the spirit of nationhood as well as respect and love towards the country.
With such aims, the two-storey Memorial houses and exhibits historic documents ranging from the era of Malacca Malay Sultanate right up to the eve of independence in 1957. The materials on exhibition include historical documents, photographs, maps, newspaper and magazine cuttings, film excerpts and other types of documentation contributed by the public as well as the personal collection of YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj.
The exhibition at the Memorial is divided into several sections according to the chain of events as well as in chronological order. The historical trail commences with the formation of the Malacca Malay Sultanate and its downfall and retreat to Johore during the battle against the Portuguese. Several series of struggles and rebellion against the colonialists including those in the states of Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Sabah and Sarawak are also on exhibition.
Besides that, the Memorial also exhibits the struggles of the people of the Federation of Malaya during the pre-Independence period notably the roles of political parties and personages such as Dato' Onn, Tunku Abd. Rahman, Dr. Burhanuddin Al-Helmy and Ibrahim Yaacob the time continuum of achieving and the apex of the achievement of independence the Federation of Malaya independence, via collaborative efforts by the UMNO - MCA – MIC parties which represented the three major races of the Federation of Malaya at the point in time.
The exhibition halls are also arranged according to events in history which begins from the ground level of the Memorial building right up to the second floor. This second level offers a film screening on the struggles towards independence such as during the state of emergency period and the momentous declaration of independence day. A major portion of the Memorial building caters for exhibition purposes while the rear section functions as the administration office.
The Independence Declaration Memorial is currently one of the tourist hotspots for visitors in search of the nation's struggles towards independence from the clutches of colonisation It is here where all historical treasures of the nation's struggles are preserved for the view and exemplary evidence of present and future generations