KUALA LUMPUR: For the first time in Malaysia's modern history, the installation of the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong will take place at the majestic new Istana Negara in Jalan Duta.
Come April 11, the sprawling white palace with 22 yellow domes will see the installation of Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah of Kedah as the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong in a grand ceremony steeped in royal Malay custom.
In retrospect, seven of the 13 Yang di-Pertuan Agong to date were installed at the old Istana Negara in Jalan Istana, which was a refurbished old mansion belonging to Chinese millionaire Chan Wing.
The new Istana Negara in Jalan Duta has been designed to exude a regal image representing the constitutional monarchy that is one of the pillars of the nation.
STEEPED IN TRADITION
The installaion ceremony takes place once every five years, and the upcoming ceremony is expected to be held at the Balairong Seri hall within the Istana Negara.
On the day of the event, the Balairong Seri will be a focal point not only for Malaysians but also for the whole world in its portrayal of a unique constitutional monarchy system that is not practiced anywhere else in the world.
Elaborating on the grand Balairong Seri, AR Datuk (Dr) Nik Mohamed Mahmood, Principal Director of Kumpulan Senireka Sdn Bhd (KSSB)—the company that designed the Istana Negara—pointed out that in serving its purpose, the Balairong Seri along with the Banquet Hall and the Surau in the Official Wing could accommodate an audience of 1,000 people.
Apart from these three areas, the Dewan Seri Maharaja in the main lobby and a huge concourse will be also used during the installation ceremony. Also included in the event is the Throne Room (Bilik Singgahsana).
According to Nik Mohamed, the new Istana Negara's architecture is a fusion of traditional Malay and Islamic architecture.
Built on 104 hectares (241.3 acres) of land, the main structure of the Istana Negara faces the direction of Makkah and is divided into different levels and wings based on the royal institution's functions.
The main floor is divided into the Official Wing and the Royal Wing. The lower floor houses the administrative office, kitchen, store and other support areas.
Unlike the old palace, which only had two domes, the new one boasts 22 domes with the main one reaching 60 meters high, a reflection of the supremacy of the Agong and Raja Permaisuri Agong within the nation and in society.
The design of the gateway at the main entrance from Jalan Duta was intended to exude the prestige enjoyed by the presiding head of state for Malaysia.
The gates are covered in floral designs of the hibiscus—the country’s national flower—and in Islamic motifs.
THREE ENTRY POINTS
There are in fact three entrances to the Istana Negara with the main one from Jalan Duta being reserved for Their Majesties, Malay rulers and their consorts, governors and the visiting heads of states and the heads of government.
This main entrance is where the palace guards from the first Malay Regiment and the horse-mounted guards are stationed.
The second entrance at Jalan Changkat Semantan is used by royal guests, and the third entrance from Jalan Sri Hartamas, Mont Kiara, is the route for commoners seeking an audience with His Majesty or those who wish to meet Istana Negara's administration or to attend events at Istana Negara.
A TOUGH JOB WELL DONE
Designing the Istana Negara was no ordinary task, especially when the palace building had to stand out to reflect the exalted position and role of the head of state.
Nik Mohamed noted that the designers of the palace are grateful for the advice provided by Raja Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail, who was the 12th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, when work on the new palace began.
Although Nik Mohamed had a hand in designing the Istana Selangor in Kuala Lumpur and Istana Darul Ehsan in Putrajaya, he still considers the Istana Negara to be a Herculean undertaking.
*Taken from NST Online