National Palace - Kuala Lumpur Tours

The National Palace, or Istana Negara is the official residence of the King and Queen of Malaysia or, to give them their more formal titles, His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Her Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Raja Permaisuri Agong.

History of the Palace

The Palace is located on an 11 hectare site in the leafy centre of Kuala Lumpur. It was built in 1928 as a private residence for a Chinese tin tycoon called Chan Wing who made his fortune by developing the Hong Fatt Tin Mine which is where The Mines development now stands.
Mr. Chan Wing's home cost RM150,000 to build and although it had 13 rooms at that time it must still have been quite crowded as he had 26 children and 8 or 9 wives.
He had to flee Malaya during the Japanese occupation as he was known to be a supporter of anti-Japanese resistance in China. His descendants still have active business interests in Malaysia and beyond.
During the War, the Japanese used the building as an officers' mess. After their surrender, it was used by the British Royal Air Force for a while and then served as a temporary Palace for the Sultan of Selangor while his new Palace at Klang was being built.
The Palace was then acquired by the Federal Government in 1957 and, after undergoing extensive renovations and extensions, it became the National Palace.

The Malaysian Monarchy System

Malaysia has a unique constitutional monarchy system whereby the King, who is also Ruler of one of the states that make up Malaysia, serves for a fixed period of 5 years before being replaced by a Sultan from another of the states. The King is elected by the Conference of Rulers and in practice the Monarchy has rotated in turn between each of the 9 states with Sultans.
These states are (in order) Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Perlis, Terengganu, Kedah, Kelantan, Pahang, Johor and Perak.
The current King, Al-Wathiqu Billah Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Mahmud Al-Mukhtafi Billah Shah is the Ruler of Terangganu and his 5 year term ends in December 2011. The next King will be from Kedah state.
The remaining 4 of Malaysia's 13 states (Sarawak, Sabah, Melaka and Penang do not have Sultans - they have Governors instead).
The King, as Supreme Head of State, has roles and functions in matters relating to legislation, judiciary, military, religion, diplomacy and pardoning.

Royal Etiquette and Protocol

If you are ever fortunate enough to be invited to the Palace for dinner you will need to brush up on your etiquette. I can recommend a fascinating official website on the Malaysian Monarchy which will tell you everything you need to know. For example, it tells us that at the dinner table we should "Avoid yawning or belching loudly". I should think so too!
And if you are ever hosting a function for VVIPs you will need to know the Federal Order of Precedence to avoid offending anybody. The same website informs us that naturally the King and Queen occupy the number 1 and 2 positions in the order of precedence. The Prime Minister only comes in at number 6. When planning your seating arrangements you might also need to know for example that the Governor of the Central Bank (No.40) takes precedence over the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur (No.41).

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