Istana NegaraEdit profile
Istana Negara (Malay for National Palace) is the official residence of His Majesty, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) of Malaysia. It stands on a 13 acre (50,000 m²) site, located at a commanding position on the slope of a hill of Bukit Petaling overlooking the Klang River, along Jalan Syed Putra.
Another royal residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is Istana Melawati in Putrajaya and a replacement palace is to be built on Jalan Duta in Kuala Lumpur.
The palace was originally a double-storey mansion built in 1928 by a local Chinese millionaire, Chan Wing. During the Japanese occupation from 1942–1945, it was used as the residence of the Japanese Governor. After the surrender of the Japanese on 15 August 1945, the British Military Administration (BMA) commandeered it for a senior military officers mess from the rank of brigadier. With the formation of the Federation of Malaya in 1950, the Selangor State Government rented the residence from the owners for Straits Dollars 5,000 a month until Merdeka or Indepencence in 1957. It was renovated to become the palace of His Majesty the Sultan of Selangor. In 1957, the owners sold the property of 13 acres to the Federal Government at an agreed valuation of Straits Dollars 1.4 Million.
The Federal Government then converted the residence into the Istana Negara for the newly created sovereign post of Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaya which was about to achieve independence that August as scheduled. Since then it has undergone several renovations and extensions. But the most extensive upgrading was carried out in 1980, as it was the first time that the Installation Ceremony of His Majesty DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong was held at the Istana Negara. Prior to this the Installation Ceremonies were held at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Hall in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur with the first one held in 1957.
Palace areas and use
The building is nestled within a 11.34-hectare compound with a variety of plants and flowers, swimming pool and indoor badminton hall. As the palace grounds are not opened to members of the public or tourists, the Main Palace Entrance is a favourite picture spot for tourists.
The whole area is fenced up and the Royal Insignia of His Majesty is placed on each steel bar between two pillars of the fence. At the front of the Istana Negara, there is the main entrance which resembles an arch. On each side of the arch, are two guard posts to shelter two members of the cavalry in their full dress uniform similar to the ones at Buckingham Palace, London.
In the grounds of the palace is a guard house for the members of the Royal Malay Regiment, one of the two Household Division units in the Malaysian Armed Forces (the other one is the Malaysian Royal Armoured Corps Mounted Ceremonial Squadron). There is also a six hole golf course, tennis courts and a lake in the far end of the grounds.
The driveway, lined with cypresses and casuarinas, leads to two entrances - an entrance to the West Wing and the other to the East Wing.
Balairong Seri is the throne room of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. It is located in the East Wing and only used for official and customary functions. These include ceremonial occasions of taking the royal pledge, installation ceremony of a new elected King and the appointment of a new prime minister and the federal government which included investiture ceremonies and the taking of oaths by the government ministers and state governors. This is also where the presentation and acceptance of foreign diplomatic appointments are held. It sometimes serves as a banquet hall.
The second hall on the first floor is the Dewan Mengadap where the King receives honoured guests such as Head of States and foreign dignitaries. This hall doubles as a resting place of Sultans and Governors during the Conference of Rulers. The other rooms are Bilik Duta, Bilik Permaisuri and Bilik Menteri. Bilik Duta is where the King grants audience to the Prime Minister and also where honoured guests are received. The Queen receives her guests at the Bilik Permaisuri while the Bilik Menteri is the rest room for guests.
The Conference of Rulers is held at the Bilik Mesyuarat Raja-Raja situated in the West Wing.
New Istana Negara
The new RM 800 million Istana Negara complex will be built near Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur to replace the existing Istana Negara.
The construction was commenced on mid-2007, and Works Minister Shaziman Abu Mansor said the palace is expected to be completed on June 30 next year (2011), at a total cost of RM797 million. Malaysia’s opposition has criticised the government’s decision to award the development contract without a tender, and said the company which will handle the construction is controlled by a senior figure in the ruling party. The cost overrun is RM397 million or almost 100% from its original budget.
The old building is to become a museum, however local peaceful protests against the idea have a chance of disrupting this plan.
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