One of the faces of the warriors in Tugu Negara, Malaysia's National Monument located near Parliament in Kuala Lumpur, was modelled after that of Malaysia's first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman as a young man, while former Kedah menteri besar Tan Sri Osman Aroff was the resident model for the sculptor.
According to Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia, the warrior in the middle holding the Malaysian flag is the one with Tunku’s face.
Osman, Kedah’s sixth menteri besar, said Tunku, on his visit to the United States in 1961, was attracted to the Iwo Jima Memorial which stands as a symbol of one of the most historic battles of World War II fought by the US Marines. It was crafted by Felix De Weldon, an Austrian artist.
Tunku then expressed his wish to build a similar monument for Malaysia, in honour of our warriors who had died fighting the communists.
Following a series of meetings with De Weldon, the artist agreed to work on the monument.
Tunku then ordered that the uniforms and full gear of the Malayan army be sent to Washington.
The Tugu Negara, situated a stone's throw from the Malaysian Parliament. – Pic courtesy Wikipedia.
Osman was then private secretary to the foreign minister, the late Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, and was randomly picked by Tunku to be a model for the monument.
"I was shocked and very proud because the Tugu Negara was a symbolic memorial for our warriors and would be seen by all Malaysians," said Osman, who was born in Kampung Kelubi, Jitra, Kedah on November 23, 1940.
At the studio owned by De Weldon, Osman then went into “action” in his soldier gear and posed as though he was in combat.
Six of the faces are the result of the artist's imagination.
Every now and then, Osman would be called into the studio for follow-up work, Utusan Malaysia reported, quoting Osman.
According to Osman, the bronze monument was cast in Italy before being brought to Malaysia.
Then, on February 8, 1966, which was Tunku’s birthday, the monument in memory of the country's warriors was unveiled.
The National Monument was a point of debate in Parliament at one time because the faces depicted did not look like Malays.
Tan Sri Nik Ahmad Kamil, then the Malaysian Ambassador to US, related the story behind the identity of the faces and the issue was settled.
He also called on the rakyat, especially the younger generation, to get to know the real story behind the monument. – October 5, 2013.
Malaysian Insider 05 October 2013