Sunday, August 30, 2009

Merdeka Stadium, the history

"To me, the Merdeka Stadium is a dream come true. I first entertained the idea of it as long ago as 1951, when as President of the Football Association of Malaya and a humble Government servant, I saw spectators scrambling to get through the gates of a temporary enclosure for the Malaya Cup final," said Tunku Abdul Rahman Al-Haj in his foreword in the official souvenir programme in conjunction with the opening of the Merdeka Stadium.

"At every football final I never missed harping on the need for a stadium, praying and hoping that my plan would touch the hearts of the Government of the day. I went further and took up the question in the council in 1953, where it was greeted with derision."

"To sportsmen, I say, make the best use of it, and in making use of it, never forget what the Stadium stands for. The aim of the Government is to promote sports, goodwill and good fellowship among Malayans and others from without, so that the troubles which beset this world today can be smoothed out through the activities of sports and games. As I said before "The Independence of Malaya has been won on the football pitches of this country."

A collector's item

According to the then President, Municipal Council of KL, A.D. York, the first proposal for a stadium to be built was put forward by the FA of Selangor in 1949. The cost was estimated at $2.4 million and various sites were proposed by the Town Planner.

E.M. McDonald, the founding president of Federation of Malaya Olympic Council (FMOC), forerunner of Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), recalled:

"It was a sweltering day, the 2nd of May, 1956. The fact finding committee of the proposed new Merdeka Stadium had asked the Chief Minister his opinion as to the site. Nothing is too much trouble to the Tungku so there we were climbing the inside of the Chen Woo tower together stopping every now and then to recover our breath, perspiring freely. Looking down on to the Coronation Park, we noticed a large number of athletes running and practising their various sports and from where we were it was a very imposing sight.

The Tungku said to me, "Don't you think it would make an ideal spot for the Merdeka Stadium?" and in our minds we conjured up the site of the stadium being already in existence round those athletes in training.

There were many difficulties to be overcome. The Police had already planned to build further blocks of married quarters at one side of the ground; at another part of the ground there was erected the old pavilion which would have to be moved and part of the hill levelled down about twenty feet.

The Board of Control was appointed by Tunku Abdul Rahman on March 11, 1957 and met for the first time on April 3, 1957. Present were Datuk Abdul Razak Hussein (chairman), Colonel Sir Henry Hau Shik Lee (Minister of Finance), W.L.R. Carbonell (Commissioner of Police), E.M. McDonald (Chairman of the Ex-Advisory Stadium Committee), A.D. York (President of the Municipal Council, Kuala Lumpur), Ismail Abdul Latiff (State Secretary, Selangor), Lim Kee Siong (FA of Malaya rep), Kwok Kin Keng (FAM), J.N. Hughes (Malayan Rugby Union), C.L.A Stork (FM Amateur Athletic Union), Stanley Ponniah (Malayan Hockey Federation) and later replaced by K. Aryaduray and S.C.E Singam (secretary). Singam, a fearsome teacher at VI and later Klang High School, was a strong advocate of the stadium. He was also known as Bola Singam. He contested as an independent candidate of Bungsar (now Bangsar) in the then Town Hall. Secretary and later succeeded Tunku as president of FA of Selangor, Singam died of stroke in 1963. Singam is second from right. Extreme right is Aryaduray.

Aryaduray, founding secretary of MHF

The Coronation Park was developed from an old Chinese cemetry hill in the late 1930s. According to S.E. Jewkes who planned and designed the stadium, the terraces were to accomodate 21,364 persons, including 3,000 under cover. Access is provided through 50 turnstiles and the stadium can be filled in half an hour or cleared in 10 minutes. The construction of the stadium entails the movement of 200,000 tons of earth and the placing 10,000 tons of concrete and 700 tons of steel reinforcement. Designs for the stadium were commenced on 15th July, 1956 and work on the stadium itself commenced on 25th September, 1956.

The Milo ad in the souvenir programme

Click Tony Mariadass' reminiscence and personal bonding with the stadium


aFiQ said...

Pnjam gmbar dan sedikit cerita nk post kt forum bro..terima kasih~~!

rizal hashim said...

For you anytime, Evertonian hah

Purple Haze said...

And to think that under Tun Dr M's rule, the Merdeka Stadium was sold to large conglomerate who had intended to destroy this heritage building for commercial interests.

Thankfully, it has been saved.

Tok Bet said...

I am a bit confused about those dates..
Fact finding was on 2nd May 1956..
Board of Control appointed on 11 Mac 1957..
Designed started 15 Jul 1956 and work began 25 Sep 1956..

So was the Board appointed after work has already began ???

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