Reconciling Monuments (Box of Ideas)

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May 2009

This was my contribution to the 2009 Box of Ideas project under LabDNA put together by Sze Ying Goh, Amri Abu Kassim, Nani Kahar, Tshiung Han See and Elaine Foster. I had been thinking about the central mythologies of modern Malaysia and these two monuments seem to capture this contradiction. Reading Chin Peng’s memoir as well an academic work on the “Friendship Villages” in Southern Thailand (for decommissioned CPM veterans) as well as the state sponsored propaganda that returns like a bad penny at times of political crisis. More recently a nostalgia for a defeated Left, has raise the problem of these monuments as well. I contributed an article to Arteri on this.

The text reads: “Between the Government of Malaysia’s national memorial, Tugu Peringatan Negara, a stone’s throw from the Parliament building in Kuala Lumpur, and the Communist Party of Malaya’s memorial at Princess Chulaporn Village No. 10 in southern Thailand, is a history that remains deeply contested. however as the country moves further away from the events that symbolize that history – World War two, the Malayan Emergency and the Cold War – both monuments have come to, ironically suffer the same fate. Both lie deep in the shadow of the KLCC’s Twin Towers with its dream of modernization, consumerism as well as global political and corporate leadership. Nevertheless I propose that we find closure for that chapter of our history by placing both marginalised monuments on top of the same pedestal.” I am looking for the full list of contributors to the project and the box itself.

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