Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Ex-soldiers ask for new monument in Putrajaya

Former Malaysian soldiers wants a new monument in Putrajaya to commemorate Warrior’s Day even if the celebrations are moved to the administrative capital due to objections from Islamic scholars.

Presently the event is commemorated with a military ceremony at the National Monument in Kuala Lumpur.

The 130,000-strong Ex-Servicemen Association of Malaysia (PBTM) said a new monument is necessary as a respect to the soldiers even if it isn’t a replica of the iconic bronze monument of human statues in Lake Garden here.

Datuk Muhammad Abd Ghani also said the current July 31 celebrations is only symbolic and a mark of respect, denying claims it was unIslamic as stated by Islamic authorities who claim it should not be held at the site of statues or sculptures of human figures.

“It is an old military ceremony. We are not worshipping the monument as mentioned but it is just symbolic.
What is important is our intention to give respect,” he told The Malaysian Insider last night.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said last week the decision was made in adherence to the guideline of the National Fatwa Council and Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim).

Zahid said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also agreed to the decision and asked that a square measuring two to three acres be built soon for the site of the celebration.

Muhammad said the PBTM agreed that the Warrior’s Day can be celebrated in Putrajaya.

“We used to celebrate it at the National Monument and now it is Putrajaya. What we are proposing is that a new memorial be built in Putrajaya. It will be a symbolic respect to the warriors for the younger generation to know what the celebrations are about,” he added.

The PBTM website has an image of the National Monument which was mooted in 1963 by the then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra to commemorate the warriors who died defending the sovereignty of the country.

The monument embodying seven bronze statues in a 48,562 sq metres area also represents the triumph of the forces of democracy over the forces of evil. It was designed by American sculptor, Felix De Weldon and unveiled on Feb 8, 1966 which is the Tunku’s birthday.

The monument complex encompasses five main components; the National Monument, fountains, pavilion, a war memorial and the surrounding gardens. The “Last Post” is played there every Saturday to commemorate the sacrifices of soldiers who died during the Emergency and other wars in the country.

The National Fatwa Council’s portal at http://e-fatwa.intranetportal.my, has outlined religious decrees on the Warriors Day celebration which state that sounding of The Last Post and The Rouse, observing one minute’s silence with heads bowed, laying of wreaths, reading of poetry and singing before a sculptured monument are in conflict with Islamic teachings.

It says reading of poetry to arouse the warrior spirit at such a celebration, is only allowed if it is not done in front of a monument and at other places prohibited by the religion.

Muhammad maintained that the PBTM supported the government’s plans for a new square to celebrate Warrior’s Day. “We support the government’s decision to celebrate it in Putrajaya as it indirectly promotes the celebration to the younger generaiton,” he said.

“What is important is for the people to know Warrior’s Day exists and for them to know the sacrifices and deeds of the country’s soldiers,” he added.

The PBTM is the country’s oldest non-governmental organisation and was founded on May 20, 1922 as the Ex-Services Association of Malaya (ESAM). It now has 14 divisions and 200 branches throughout the country.

courtesy of Malaysian Insider

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