M & M – Museums and MRT

By Eric Lim

Saturday 25 March 2023 was to be an eventful day for me. I woke up early and off I went to the Sungai Chua Recreation Park for my 3 kilometers run, followed by a set of Taoist Tai Chi. I then went for breakfast and hurried back home to shower, put on my comfortable pair of walking shoes, and I was all set for my to-dos of the day!

First stop was none other than our National Museum. I had wanted to join the scheduled tour but arrived late, so I decided to go solo. To my surprise, when I went into Gallery A, the place was a hive of activity. The usual English tour group had just ‘landed’ at the Neolithic showcase. Past the Perak Man, cave paintings, and metal age displays, was the next highlight of Gallery A – the Bujang Valley, and it was here where I found the first Japanese group. The second Japanese group was already looking at the bronze statue of Avalokitesvara at Gallery B. Just a mere distance away, I could see a mentoring programme in session, and they were just about to start learning about ‘the Melaka story’. Without wanting to interrupt the proceedings, I made my way to Gallery C on the second floor. Here, it was peaceful and quiet, except for some young lads who came charging from the opposite direction. When I arrived at the Penang showcase, it struck me that I had not been inside Fort Cornwallis despite having guided a good number of museum tours! The fort was built by Francis Light when he first set foot on the island in 1786. It was named in honour of Lord Cornwallis, who was then the Governor General of Bengal. It was initially constructed using trunks of the nibong palm but was later changed to brickwork after learning of a threat from the French in the region. In recent times, four cannons were discovered at Fort Cornwallis, two in 2018 and another two in 2019.

Replica of Fort Cornwallis at Gallery C, National Museum / Photo source : Eric Lim

It was just past midnight on 8 December 1941, Japanese forces had landed at Kota Bharu. This attack marked the start of World War II in Asia. In front of me, a replica of a pillbox. These concrete cement structures served as barricades during the war. Again, I have to confess that I have not been inside the pillbox. As I peeked through the hole, lo and behold, I saw a Japanese soldier standing at the far right corner! I have to make a dash to Malaysia Today, i.e. Gallery D. The first Malayan general elections were held on Wednesday 27 July 1955 and out of the 52 seats offered for contest, the Alliance Party won 51 and Pan-Malayan Islamic Party (PMIP) took the one and only seat i.e the constituency of Krian, Perak, won by its member, Ahmad Tuan Hussain with a majority of 450 votes. And out of the 52 who won, there was just one successful woman candidate and she was Halimahton Abdul Majid from UMNO / Alliance who took the Ulu Selangor constituency.

Replica of a pillbox / Photo source : Eric Lim

Information on the 1955 general elections at Gallery D / Photo source : Eric Lim

A look into the world of sports. Kuala Lumpur played host to two international events, one of it being the 16th Commonwealth Games which were held from 11 September 1998 to 21st September 1998. Malaysia became the first Asian country to hold this multi-sport event. Our country ended the campaign with a total gold medal haul of ten to be placed in fourth position, the best ever result that still stands until today. By the way, I had the pleasure to be a volunteer at the KL Games.

Next, the following year from 18th – 21st November, was the World Cup of Golf which was held at The Mines Resort & Golf Club. The golf course sits on what was once the world’s largest open cast tin mines which ceased operation in 1982. The team from the USA composed of Mark O’Meara and Tiger Woods who became the team champion, and the latter also went on to take the individual title with a comfortable nine-stroke margin. The Malaysian team was represented by the late P. Gunasegaran and M. Ramayah, who also passed on 6th March 2023. Ramayah had represented the country a record thirteen times in this competition.

Accreditation card for the 16th Commonwealth Games. Photo source: Eric Lim

M. Ramayah. Photo source: Pargolf Magazine

From one museum to another new history museum in the city. The Sin Sze Si Ya Temple Pioneers of Kuala Lumpur Museum (SSSYTPOKLM) is located on the top floors of four double-storey shophouses in front of the said temple, facing Lebuh Pudu and Jalan Tun H S Lee. When I reached the museum, I was immediately told to join the group that had just started the tour upstairs. And to my surprise (for the second time), I met fellow Museum Volunteers – VP Dennis Ong, Manjeet from Batch 39 and the SSSYTPOKLM museum docent, Lim Ken who had graduated from the National Museum programme a few years prior. Lim joined the SSSYTPOKLM curatorial team in 2018. After five years in the making, SSSYTPOKLM held its official opening on 5 March 2023. YB Nga Kor Ming, Minister of Local Government Development and H.E Tang Rui, Deputy Chief of Mission & Minister, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China were the dignitaries that attended the opening ceremony. The museum is separated into three sections – Kuala Lumpur, Trustees and Sin Sze Si Sze Ya Temple. The first section starts with ‘The Birth of KL’ that highlights the role of the early pioneers like Sultan Abdul Samad, Frank Swettenham, Yap Ah Loy and Sutan Puasa. Followed by ‘Establishment of Sin Sze Si Sze Ya Temple’, ‘Story of Yap Ah Loy’, ‘Era of Trustees’ and ends with panoramic views of ‘Transformation of KL’ over the decades. Along the passage to the third section, are photographs of ‘The Board of Trustees’ since its inception until today. The third section puts its focus on the temple, highlighting ‘Deities Worshiped in the Temple’, ‘Temple Artifacts’ and ‘History & Architecture of the Temple’. This section provides all the relevant information for the visit to the Sin Sze Si Sze Ya Temple. The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm.

The official opening of SSSYTPOKLM. Photo source: SSSYTPOKLM Facebook

SSSYTPOKLM operating hours. Photo source: SSSYTPOKLM Facebook

Next stop on my ‘to-do’ list for the day is to ride on the latest train service in the Klang Valley, the MRT Putrajaya Line. It is the second line of the Klang Valley MRT Project, the first being the MRT Kajang Line. Both these lines form part of the Klang Valley Integrated Transit System. Phase 1 of the Putrajaya Line connecting Damansara Damai to Kampung Batu began operations on 16 June 2022 and with the completion of Phase 2 linking Kantonment to Putrajaya Sentral, the line is officially running full service as of 16 March 2023. This alignment which stretches from Kwasa Damansara in Sungai Buloh to Putrajaya Sentral covers a length of 57.7 km, and of which 44.2 km are above street level and 13.5 km passing through underground tunnels. In all, there are 36 stations, with 27 elevated and 9 subways. The full journey is estimated to take 84 minutes. Some of the places of interest or popular attractions to visit around some of these stations are the National Art Gallery, Istana Budaya and Hospital Kuala Lumpur from the Hospital Kuala Lumpur station; the KLCC park, Asy-Shakirin mosque and Ilham Gallery are within 300m from the Persiaran KLCC station; Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex that consists of the Craft Museum, Gift & Souvenir Shop and Craft Village is just five minutes walk from the Conlay station and the Putrajaya Sentral station also serves as interchange stop for the ERL KLIA Transit Line.

The Klang Valley Intergrated Transit Map. Photo source: MRT Corp

A brand new MRT train on the MRT Putrajaya Line. Photo source: Rapid KL

For my return to Kajang, I had to switch trains from the Putrajaya Line to Kajang Line at Kwasa Damansara station. Thus far, I had been sitting on the trains for almost two hours, and it would take another sixty minutes to reach home! It was all about walking and more walking while doing the museums round and just sitting tight and sitting right on the Mass Rapid Transit trains. And for the rest of the day, in the comfort of my living room, I watched a Japanese series that was released last November in Japan.

1. Fort Cornwallis – Heritage Sixteen
2. Two 200-year-old cannons found at Fort Cornwallis | Free Malaysia Today (FMT)
3. The Mines Resort & Golf Club | Malaysia | (minesgolf.com.my)
4. Tributes pour in for late Ramayah (nst.com.my)
5. MRT Putrajaya Line – MyRapid

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