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14 awesome newspaper headlines from August 1957 (that you never saw in your Sejarah books)

[Ed’s note: This article was originally published in August 2014] 


When we made a trip to the National Library, one thing we desperately hoped to find there was a microfilm reader, y’know, those machines that read little spools of tape containing pages from old newspapers and magazines that people in horror movies usually look through to eventually find out that their house was actually used as a site for bizarre ritual murders? Yeah, those things except for the horror part.

We eventually found where they were located, and were mesmerized by the wealth of information stored within those little strips of film – each frame a window to the past, painting a picture of the days of our forefathers, and a linear narrative of the progression to where we are today.

And what did we do with all of this? We wrote a listical listicle (Thanks Mira!).


I am disappoint.

While the National Library does have a pretty extensive list of publications in their microfilm archives (dating to 1897), some were missing or incomplete, leaving us with only two from that period – Berita Harian and the Malay Mail. We left out the Chinese and Tamil publications because this writer isn’t 1Malaysia enough in his languages.

You can click on the images to view the full article, but be warned that some text may not be too legible because, well…. old already la.

In order to enjoy the full nostalgic experience, we recommend that you play this song in the background.

Alright. Ready? Hop onboard and take a ride on the CILISOS time machine!


1. Support for Malaysia from a place you least expect – July 30th


Here’s a reader-submitted letter addressing an earlier article written by a Professor C.N. Parkinson which suggested that the Malayan independence was a result of the British administration as well as something “bestowed” (pengurniaan) upon by the British. You may also notice that the writer is from Singapore, which was at the time, still part of Malaya. Weird, right?


2. The Malayan flag will fly in London – July 30th


The headline mentions that, in order to notify Londoners that Malaya would be newest addition to the Commonweath, the Malayan flag would be flown in London on Merdeka day…………. at the Federal (Malayan) government headquarters over there. Good sell, person who came up with headline. Good sell.


3. Extra! Extra!  – August 2nd


We tried looking for this souvenir in the microfilm, but it wasn’t there 🙁

Since “thousands were sold,” anyone out there got a copy? Send some shots to [email protected].


4. One of the first words from our first Agong – August 5th


These are one of the first few statements of the newly-elected Yang di-Pertuan Agong was that he was “confident of an independent Malaya.” He also stressed that loyalty was essential, and asked people of every race to cooperate and live well and in peace.

And here’s another interesting factoid- Our first Agong and our first prime minister both shared the same name: Tunku Abdul Rahman


5. I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts…. – August 9th


All we can say is this:


Image from

6. It’s important to look good for Merdeka as well – August 12th



Funny enough, both publications touched on the topic of fashion on that day. While the print on the Berita Harian article is far too degraded to make out the text, we can surmise that it’s a series of ethnic clothing inspired by the different races in Malaysia. The Malay Mail on the other hand compared Tunku Abdul Rahman’s traditional baju muscat with the western dinner jacket. Very snappy.

Anwar launches free online tuition for Port Dickson kids. Why is it the same as Perak's!?

7. Our national anthem was a pop song – August 14th


The tune of Negaraku came from a popular song called Terang Bulan which in itself was adapted from a French melody. The snippet above contains several objections to the choice, since the use of a popular song would mean that it wouldn’t have the dignity of being a national anthem when strippers could be singing it. Yeah, we had strippers back in those days.

Oh and if you look at the column on the right you’d see that even after 57 years, our public toilets are still (literally) crap. Good to see that some things never change.

8. Malaysia gets an Atomic Bomb?????! – August 21st – 24th



August 21st


August 22nd


August 24th

When we came across this headline, we were like “whaaaa~??!” cause we never heard about Malaysia having atomic bombs back in school. Funny thing is that there wasn’t any mention of this in the Malay Mail, cause you’d think that with cold war tensions looming it’d be pretty big news.

Aha, but it seems that the British had secretly stored nuclear weapons in Singapore. There are also one resource that claims that it was a mixture of live and dummy bombs to be used for training purposes. We really can’t verify any of these, so don’t go questioning your sejarah teacher just yet.


9. Communists Were Still a Major Concern – August 22nd – 29th

August 22nd

Leading up to Merdeka, there were ongoing attempts to reach some sort of solution to the Malayan Emergency which included making peace with the Malayan Communist Party.


10. Well, we had P.Ramlee back then – August 30th


Haha hahaha haha ha. Sigh.

11. Bagusnya Penjajah British! – August 30th


With the byline “British Legacy to Malaya Will be Sound Foundations of Administration,” you kinda know where this article is going. It gives a brief chronicle of Malaysian history from Melaka to Independence, with focus on how the British helped in transforming the landscape of the country, driving it towards eventual independence. This is where we ask you to relook at article #1.


12. We are Masters of Our Own Destiny – August 31st


“We are now masters of our own destiny.” You can almost still hear the optimism in those words.


13. Why don’t we have these now? – August 31st



We thought this was cute in a old-timey sorta way. Nobody writes ballads anymore.

Unless they happen to be Phil Collins.


14. And at long last…..



:’ )

By now, you may have noticed that most of the articles we’ve selected in regards to reports leading up to Merdeka are from Berita Harian. This isn’t an intentional choice, but because Berita Harian reported on it way more than the Malay Mail did. We figure it’s probably due to the audience each newspaper caters towards, with the Malay Mail targeting expats and Berita Harian’s target audience being locals. There was definitely a more pro-British vibe coming from the Malay Mail as well.

Reading these old editions, we’ve come across many things which caught our eye such as advertisements and even the reporting language back in the day. While we couldn’t really include those here, we could include them in future articles *hint hint*

Oh, and do give some love to our National Library. They really aren’t used to people staying in till closing time.



  1. megabigBLUR

    07/09/2014 at 5:16 am

    By the way, my American spouse just pointed out The Stars and Stripes started out as a bar song.

    • UiHua

      08/09/2014 at 3:51 pm

      Whaaaaa? D:

  2. megabigBLUR

    07/09/2014 at 5:14 am

    These are awesome. Thanks for sharing.

    The idea of a stripper singing Negaraku cracks me up. What more that a Malay Mail journo had no problem writing in an editorial that s/he went to see a striptease.

    • UiHua

      08/09/2014 at 3:55 pm

      Newspapers back in the day were pretty interesting, mostly in the verbosity of language. We have a few examples from the turn of the century that we’ll be covering in a future article. Heh.

  3. z1

    05/09/2014 at 1:04 pm

    When I saw headline no.4, I thought of this

    • UiHua

      08/09/2014 at 3:58 pm

      Sudirman! 😀

  4. Pingback: 7 Innocent Malaysian News Stories that are (OMG!!) SEDITIOUS!! | CILISOS - Current Issues Tambah Pedas!

  5. Avril

    02/09/2014 at 6:29 pm

    What perturbed me most was the Long Lumber ‘joke’

    • UiHua

      08/09/2014 at 3:54 pm

      Eh? Which joke is this? I must have missed it

  6. Pingback: 5 pieces of news that kinda ruined Merdeka for us | CILISOS - Current Issues Tambah Pedas!

  7. mira

    30/08/2014 at 12:45 am

    It’s so funny to see that they used straight up 2 for their kata ganda, not even superscripting it. Macam budak sekolah texting.

    But eh, tiny tiny nitpicking, it’s listicle, not listical. Come on man, you know this – It’s the abbreviation of ‘lizard testicle’.

    • UiHua

      02/09/2014 at 3:06 pm

      The baku-ness of the spelling is what gets me.

      And thanks for the tiny tiny nitpick (as well as the disturbing image). It’s been corrected. To quote a famous singer – “I have no professional training” 😛

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