“Merdeka” means a lot to every Malaysian, proclaimed seven times as it was by the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, at the ceremony marking the independence of Malaysia.
Rumah Merdeka is the house of Tunku Abdul Rahman, also known as Bapa Malaysia and Bapa Kemerdekaan. This house was landed on the birth place of the prime minister in Alor Setar; it was once built in wood as Rumah Jalan Baru in the time of Japanese Occupation. In 1953, Tunku had rebuilt the house in brick keeping the upper floor as a wooden structure. It is now a museum and open to the public.
The name Rumah Merdeka was given by the Tunku’s friends such as Senu Abdul Rahman, Khir Johari and Tan Cheng Lock, who visited him here on a number of occasions. When he became prime minister of Malaysia, the Tunku continued to use the house whenever he was in Kedah, and after he went into retirement, the house continued to be used for meetings among leaders of UMNO.
It is said that the Tunku wrote the script of Mahsuri and Raja Bersiong, in Rumah Merdeka. These were eventually made into movies. The house was also the initial venue of a goodwill mission by an Indonesian delegation to meet Malaysian representatives, which paved the way to the end of Confrontation between Indonesia and Malaysia.