It’s fair to say that most travelers don’t get too excited when they see a police museum; it’s kind of a niche thing. But if you’re in Kuala Lumpur, it’s worth paying a visit to the Royal Malaysian Police Museum, arguably one of the best small museums in the Malaysian capital.
As the name suggests, the museum tells the history of the Malaysian police, from pre-colonial times through British rule and up to the present day. But rather than presenting a staid, celebratory history of its police force, the museum uses the history of the country’s law enforcement agencies—and those they fought against—to tell the colorful story of Malaysia itself.
The museum is divided into three spaces. Gallery A takes us back to pre-colonial times, where paintings and weapons tell the story of the Malacca Sultanate and its downfall. Then we have the Temenggong—the sultan’s personal bodyguard—who was also in charge of the state police. It then moves on to the British colonial era and the very earliest forms of the modern police force, with uniforms and traditional weaponry on display, including the asymmetrical kris dagger.
Gallery B shows the development of the modern police force, mainly through the tools and everyday items used by the evolving Royal Malaysia Police (RMP). Artifacts include old police typewriters, helmets, notebooks, and buttons. There are also models of police vehicles, and an armory filled with official police firearms, including revolvers, rifles, automatic weapons and grenades. And some of the most colorful items come from the bad guys: knuckledusters and knives used by criminal clans, and swords and sticks used by the triads.
Gallery C deals with more recent emergencies faced by Malaysia and the RMP. These include the Bukit Kepong incident of 1950, an armed encounter between police and gunmen of the Malayan Communist Party during the Malayan Emergency. Fourteen officers were killed, along with 40 Communist gunmen.
The museum’s largest exhibits, meanwhile, are located outside. Here you’ll find various police vehicles, including a Sankey AT-105 armored car, a Shorland armored patrol vehicle, a GMC armored personnel carrier, and a patrol boat. And for train fans there’s an armored Wickham trolley, a railway personnel carrier converted to hold five police personnel to guard the railway tracks between 1953 and 1960.
Know Before You Go
The Royal Malaysian Police Museum is located about a 5-minute walk from the Kuala Lumpur train station, not far from the Planetarium Negara, the Islamic Arts Museum, and the Masjid Negara. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (but closes on Fridays between 12.30 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. for Friday prayers). Entrance is free.