KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 2 — Almost seven decades later, the grandson of British High Commissioner to Malaya Sir Gerald Templer visited the historical Carcosa Seri Negara mansion today.
Having arrived in Malaysia for a two-week tour, Gerald had nothing besides wide grins and deep appreciation to show after visiting the very room his grandfather worked in in the mansion that served as his official residence during the 1950s.
Sir Gerald served as a senior British Army Officer during the 1940s up to the late 1950s, and was appointed the British High Commissioner to Malaya in 1952 by then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill himself.
Gerald, the grandson, was born in 1986, seven years after Sir Gerald died.
“My grandfather, sadly, died before I was born so I didn’t have a personal recollection of him, so this was a lovely point of contact between me and him.
“I can begin to imagine his history walking through where he worked, and where my father grew up, so it holds a very special place in my family history; lovely for me to come visit and experience it myself,” he said during the visit to Carcosa Seri Negara.
Gerald and his girlfriend Victoria’s visit was accommodated by Asian Heritage Museum Sdn Bhd, a private social enterprise led by CEO KK Tan who has been tasked to manage the Carcosa Seri Negara mansions.
The company aims to restore and transform the development into an anti-extremism museum, and an arts, culture and nature centre to maintain the condition of the buildings, while educating the public on its significance to national history.
Gerald was also supportive of the potential transformation that could take place in Carcosa Seri Negara, saying it was important for such a piece of national history to be preserved.
“I think developing it and opening it up to the people so they can really experience that (history) themselves, while serving as sort of a beacon of peace and anti-extremism museum would be fabulous.
He added the current display of photographs and storyboards in Carcosa Seri Negara, part of the “Jalan Merdeka” historical exhibition there, was already a good step forward in reliving national history.
“People can experience history themselves and it can resonate much stronger, because it’s not just an abstract story, it’s a concrete experience that took place here,” he said.
Gerald was referring to the drafting of the Federal Constitution and the signing of the Merdeka Agreement in Carcosa Seri Negara during the 1950s.
“I think he (my grandfather) would be extremely delighted to know that the place where he spent so much time and that meant so much to him personally is being used to celebrate and explore peace, arts, heritage and culture.
“I think he would be extremely delighted and it’s going to leave a legacy for Malaysia’s youth and the rest of the country,” he added.
The Carcosa Seri Negara mansion, which sits on a 40-acre site, was built by Sir Frank Swettenham in 1896 as his official residence as the High Commissioner following the formation of the Federated Malay States.
Dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II stayed there in 1986. Carcosa Seri Negara was also used as the first official guest palace of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong for three years following Malaya’s independence in 1957.
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