Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The curtain finally comes down on Istana Negara

After serving for 54 years, Istana Negara at Jalan Istana in Kuala Lumpur, which is the official residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, today ended its function officially with pomp and pageantry. The ceremony beginning at 9am, witnessed the marching in of the First Battalion of the Royal Malay Regiment (RAMD) comprising two officers and 58 men of various ranks accompanied by the RAMD central band. The ceremony continued with a team of flag bearers comprising 10 members of the RAMD who lowered the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s private flag as the last post was being played to signify the shifting of Istana Negara at Jalan Istana to the Istana Negara in Jalan Duta. Later, the ceremony continued with the procession of the flag bearers with the ceremonial horse squadron to the palace main entrance to present the flag to Istana Negara grand chamberlain Tengku Farok Husin Tengku Abdul Jalil who represented Istana Negara in signifying the palace’s completion of duty. The flag was presented by Acting RAMD First Battalion officer-in-command Major Mohd Kadri Abu Bakar. As a symbolic closure of the monumental building with its golden dome, the Grand Chamberlain later directed Istana Negara officer Rosli Asri to lock the main entrance of the palace, signifying all duties at Istana Negara had completed before moving to the Istana Negara at Jalan Duta for another flag raising ceremony. The teams in attendance comprised RAMD First Battalion and the Ceremonial Horse Squadron with three officers and 69 men of various ranks with 12 horses. Among those present to witness the flag lowering ceremony were senior deputy secretary-general of the Prime Minister’s Department, Othman Mahmood; Armed Forces (ATM) chief of staff Lt-Gen Raja Afandi Raja Mohd Nor and ATM’s deputy chief of staff Maj-Gen Abdul Aziz Ibrahim. Meanwhile, at the Istana Negara in Jalan Duta, a ceremony to raise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s private flag began at 10.25am when the grand chamberlain handed over the flag to a team of flag bearers to signify the commencement of duty of the Malaysian Armed Forces at the Jalan Duta Istana Negara square. Automated flag raiser The new palace, in tune with technology today, uses an automated flag raiser unlike the manual approach at the old palace. Istana Negara began shifting its operations to the new complex in Jalan Duta in stages since Oct 19 while the assignment of guards from ATM began today. The 11.34 hectare old palace which was the official residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was originally a double storey bungalow built in 1928 by a local Chinese millionaire, Chan Wing. The bungalow was bought by the Selangor state government and renovated to become the residence of the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sir Hishamuddin Alam Shah. The building, which was made a palace of the Sultan of Selangor, was later acquired by the federal government as the official residence of the first Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Abdul Rahman Tuanku Muhammad, a few weeks before the declaration of independence. Meanwhile, the new Istana Negara built with Islamic and traditional Malay features is located on a 96.52 hectare site compared to 11.34 hectare at the old palace. It will witness the installation of the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah of Kedah, in December. - Bernama


The palace was originally a double-storey mansion built in 1928 by a local Chinese millionaire, Chan Wing. During the Japanese occupationfrom 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 achieveindependence 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[1] with the first one held in 1957.

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