Malaysia owes much to its former prime minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. The country reached Tiger Economy status during his leadership and is now considered one of the most progressive nations in Asia. After 22 years as Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Mahathir decided to retire from office in 2003 and leave behind a one-of-a-kind legacy, the Galeria Perdana in Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia.
Galeria Perdana is a museum that showcases unique, special, and expensive displays from all over the world that have one thing in common. All the items in display are awards, souvenirs and gifts given to the former prime minister and his wife by world leaders, famous personalities and special friends when he was still in office. Dr. Mahathir believed that whatever gifts he received while serving in a public office rightfully belonged to the people of Malaysia and that everyone should have access to them. Today, people are amazed at the assortment of gifts that the prime minister and his wife have received through the years. Displayed inside the two-storey gallery are the following.
One section displays different items made from crystal, wood, leather, and lacquer. The most interesting ones are miniature rhinoceros, horse, and polar bear figurines. There are also stone objects and musical instruments, while another section displays colorful and intricate textiles, games, elaborate weapons, ceramics, plaques and rare Islamic art. There is also a Reading Room where a huge collection of reference materials is on display. Every item displayed is unique, rare and truly worth a lot. Mahathir could have kept them all for himself or sold them for profit, but he decided to put them all up on display, which just shows his selflessness and high regard for nation. Each display has a description including what country it came from and who gave the gift. One of the most impressive items is a Formula 1 race car inside the section that showcases different automobiles.
Besides the former prime minister’s selflessness and the exciting and exotic items on display, Galeria Perdana is also visited for its amazing architecture. Opened on December 3, 1995, the museum is a two-storey building that is surrounded by a beautifully landscaped garden. There is an outdoor greenhouse with temperature control to make sure the plants are always kept in their most ideal environment. Inside the museum, visitors often get a cramped neck from beholding the magnificent ceiling with intricate hand-painted designs.
The museum is located in peaceful Kilim Village, about 11 km from Kuah, Langkawi’s capital. Tour groups typically pass by the gallery because it speaks much about the different cultures of the world and Malaysia’s prominent position among them. Individual and incidental tourists also check out the museum because no doubt they have heard about it from other travelers, hotel personnel, or the local people. Admission fee is only RM 10 for adults and RM 4 for children, plus a RM 2 charge for cameras.
But above all these, what really excites the locals of Langkawi is Mahathir’s choice of venue to build this unique gallery. He chose Langkawi over Kuala Lumpur or other major destinations as Penang or Kota Kinabalu. The Galeria Perdana affirms that Langkawi Island is indeed Malaysia’s prime tourist destination.