Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The 13th King of Malaysia

The Sultan of Terengganu, Duli Yang Maha Mulia Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Wathiqu Billah Al-Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Ibni Almarhum Al-Sultan Mahmud Al-Muktafi Billah Shah Al-Haj was installed as the new King of Malaysia in an elaborate ceremony yesterday. He is now the 13th King of Malaysia.

Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin became the youngest Malay ruler when he ascended the Terengganu throne at the age of 36. He was crowned the 17th Sultan of Terengganu on May 15, 1998.

He was the Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong from April 26, 1999, till he was elected by he Conference of Rulers to succeed Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail (the Raja of Perlis) on Dec 13, 2006, for a five-year term following a rotation system established since Independence.

The installation ceremony was a glittering affair, which blended many aspects of the Malay-Muslim culture and traditions.

There were several elaborate stages to the ceremony, which was witnessed by the Sultans and Governors of the states, ministers, ambassadors and representatives of the diplomatic missions in Malaysia and leaders of political parties.

Invitation to the ceremony was a highly restricted and exclusive exercise, which is under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Department. This year, 10 events have been organised to commemorate the installation, and involves all levels of society whereby the King and Queen meet with Cabinet Ministers, VIPs, orphans and the rakyat.

The Prime Minister’s Office and the Istana Negara handle the protocol and ceremonial aspects of the ceremony. From etiquette to be practised by attending guests when they are honoured by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s presence, to seating and security arrangements during the ceremony, both parties certainly have their hands full.

The installation ceremony proceeding

The Agong's installation ceremony were held yesterday. Guests took their places, and accompanied by traditional nobat music, the Duli Yang Maha Mulia Seri Paduka Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Seri Paduka Baginda Raja Permaisuri Agong entered the Balairong Seri (Throne Room).

They were preceded by the Grand Chamberlain of Istana Negara (Datuk Paduka Maharaja Lela), and the Penjawat, who carried the Cogan Alam (Sceptre of the universe) and Cogan Agama (Sceptre of Religion), accompanied by palace courtiers.

A sword, keris, cokmar (Royal Mace), sundang and spear were brought into the room.

The nobat played Raja Berangkat (loosely translated as the arrival of the King and is Queen), signalling the royal arrival, and guests stood to demonstrate their respect to the new King and Queen.

The moment the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Raja Permaisuri Agong were seated on the throne, the Grand Chamberlain and other royal courtiers settled into their respective places in the Throne Room.

Then the Grand Chamberlain sought permission (“merafak sembah”) from the Yang di- Pertuan Agong to bring in the Alat-alat Kebesaran Istiadat Pertabalan (the instruments of Royal Installation) to the Balairong Seri.

He left the room, and together with the Datuk Penghulu Istiadat (The Protocol Officer) and the Religious Officer of the Palace, the instruments were brought in.
They consisted of the Holy Quran, the Keris Kerajaan (Keris of State), Letter of Proclamation and The Oath of Office.

The Grand Chamberlain presented the Holy Quran to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who rose from his throne; took and kissed it and then placed it on a special table between the King and Queen.

The Grand Chamberlain took a few steps back, bow to the King, and invited the Prime Minister of Malaysia to read the Letter of Proclamation to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The Prime Minister then presented himself to the King with a sembah (salute) before reading out the letter. When that was over, the Prime Minister returned to his seat, the Datuk Panglima Istiadat took the Keris Kerajaan (Keris of State) and accompanied the Grand Chamberlain to present the item to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

His Majesty unsheathed the keris and kissed it, before placing it on the table. The Grand Chamberlain stepped down to take the Oath of Office, and then offered it to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who then read the oath.

When the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has completed reading the oath, and returned the oath to the Grand Chamberlain, the nobat were sounded, which signified the King’s installation.
The Grand Chamberlain announced, Daulat Tuanku! (Long live the King!) three times, followed by the audience.

Twenty-one cannon blasts were fired, and the National Anthem, Negaraku, were played.
The last few moments of the ceremony were of equal importance. The Prime Minister came forward to present a congratulatory speech and pledge of loyalty from the government and the people of Malaysia.

He was shown to his seat, and the Grand Chamberlain and Datuk Penghulu Istiadat presented a tray bearing the scroll of His Majesty’s speech (Titah di-Raja). When His Majesty finished his speech, the Grand Chamberlain then asked for permission to announce that the Installation Ceremony is over. Their Majesties will take their leave after the announcement.

The festivities continued in the palace grounds with the royal couple being invited to inspect a march-past of the Armed Forces.

A grand luncheon followed the royal family, dignitaries, and other guests. Guests were also feted at a garden tea ceremony, whereby the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Raja Permaisuri Agong met the well-wishers.

Later in the evening, a royal banquet were held to welcome and herald the new King and Queen of Malaysia.

Source from: Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry

Special Regalia for King's Installation

The Throne
The throne at Istana Negara’s Balairong Seri (Throne Room) was crafted and structured to blend motifs from the peninsula as well as Sabah and Sarawak. The motifs are coloured gold, to add regality and an imperial aura to the throne, and all the designs point upwards to indicate that all beings are created by Allah.

Royal Attire, Muskat
THE royal attire of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for the installation ceremony is the Muskat, which is the King’s Royal Dress. The origin of the Muskat can be traced to the ancient kingdom of Muscat, which is the present day Oman. Originally the Muskat was worn by government officials of Kedah. The Muskat was first worn in 1960, at the installation of the third Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

LIKE the Muskat, the tengkolok (Royal Headdress) is among the symbols of power of the Malay Rulers. The tengkolok is black and intricately woven with gold threads and folded according to the Negri Sembilan-style Dendam Tak Sudah. Affixed at the front of the headwear is a crescent-shaped ornament and a 14-pointed star. At the centre of the star is the crest of the Malaysian Government.

Royal Buckle
The Pending or Royal Buckle is made of pure gold and decorated with 11 rubies. There is an engraved centrepiece featuring the Federation Crest. The belt is made of heavy ribbed silk and embroidered with floral motifs in gold thread. The keris is among the Royal Regalia worn by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. There are two – the Keris Pendek di-Raja and Keris Panjang di-Raja. Keris Pendek di-Raja is the short keris made from the steel blades of older keris. It has an ivory hilt and gold-decorated sheath. The hilt is called Hulu Pekaka and shaped like the head of the legendary Garuda bird. The Federation Crest is embossed on the crosspiece of the sheath, Keris Panjang di-Raja, the long keris, symbolises power and authority. Its hilt and sheath are coated with gold and it is made from the blades of 11 other keris.

Gendik, Kalung
The Gendik di-Raja or Royal Tiara is worn by the Raja Permaisuri Agong during royal ceremonies and on the day of installation. The Gendik is made of platinum and studded with diamonds. It is so designed that it can be separated to form a locket and two brooches. The Kalung di-Raja or Royal Necklace is made of platinum and studded with diamonds. The kalung can be separated into a pair of earrings, brooches and kerabu (ornament for the ears).

The Cogan Alam (Mace of the Universe) is part of the Royal Regalia. This silver mace symbolises power and is 162.66cm long. It consists of an orb mounted on a long shaft. The orb has a crescent and an 11-pointed gold star sitting on it. Around the centre of the orb, the crests of the 11 states of Malaya are embossed in gold. The orb is supported by four tigers while the shaft itself is decorated with six padi stalks carved in gold. The 155.04cm long Cogan Agama (Mace of Religion) is also made of silver. It consists of a large conical-shaped head with a golden five-pointed star mounted on a long shaft. Verses from the Holy Quran are embossed on the head and shaft.

Other Regalia
The Cokmar, or War Club, is another symbol of power and part of the panoply of authority of the Malaysian Government. The Cokmar are two in number and made of silver. Each is 81.32cm long and consists of a circular, fluted orb made of plain silver and mounted on a short shaft, also made of silver. The other Royal Regalia are the Pedang di-Raja (Royal Sword), and Sundang di-Raja (royal swordkeris). The Pedang and Sundang are traditional Malay weapons that have become symbols of royalty. They have silver-gilt hilts and sheaths. The Payung Uburubur Kuning (royal umbrella) are 20 in number and made of silver. Yellow symbolises royalty and is reserved for royal usage. At the top of the Royal Umbrella is an 11-pointed star and crescent. Tombak Berambu, also 20 in number, have blades with three curved indentations. They are made from ancient spears from the 11 states of peninsular Malaysia. The Nobat or Royal Musical Ensemble is a form of traditional Malay music. Only four states have the nobat – Kedah, Terengganu, Perak and Selangor.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


The two distinct parts of Malaysia, separated from each other by the South China Sea, share a largely similar landscape in that both West and East Malaysia feature coastal plains rising to often densely forested hills and mountains, the highest of which is Mount Kinabalu at 4,095.2 metres (13,435.7 ft) on the island of Borneo. The local climate is equatorial and characterised by the annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons.

Tanjung Piai, located in the southern state of Johor, is the southernmost tip of continental Asia.
The Strait of Malacca, lying between Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia, is arguably the most important shipping lane in the world.

Putrajaya is the newly created administrative capital for the federal government of Malaysia, aimed in part to ease growing congestion within Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur remains the seat of parliament, as well as the commercial and financial capital of the country. Other major cities include Georgetown, Ipoh, Johor Bahru, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Alor Star, Malacca Town, and Klang.


History of MalaysiaThe Malay Peninsula has thrived from its central position in the maritime trade routes between China, India and the Middle East. Ptolemy showed it on his early map with a label that translates as "Golden Chersonese", the Straits of Malacca were referred to as "Sinus Sabaricus". From the mid to the late first millennium, much of the Peninsula as well as the Malay Archipelago were under the influence of Srivijaya.

It is thought that originally these were Hindu or Buddhist nations. The first evidence of Islam in the Malay peninsula dates from the 14th century in Terengganu, but according to the Kedah Annals, the 9th Maharaja Derbar Raja AD) of Sultanate of Kedah converted to Islam and changed his name to Sultan Muzaffar Shah. Since then there have been 27 Sultans who ruled Kedah.
There were numerous Malay kingdoms in the 2nd and 3rd century CE, as many as 30 according to Chinese sources. Kedah – known as Kedaram or Kataha, in ancient Pallava or Sanskrit – was in the direct route of invasions of Indian traders and kings. Rajendra Chola, who is now thought to have laid Kota Gelanggi to waste, put Kedah to heel in 1025 but his successor, Vir Rajendra Chola, had to put down a Kedah rebellion to overthrow the invaders. The coming of the Chola reduced the majesty of Srivijaya which had exerted influence over Kedah and Pattani and even as far as Ligor.

The Buddhist kingdom of Ligor took control of Kedah shortly after, and its King Chandrabhanu used it as a base to attack Sri Lanka in the 11th century, an event noted in a stone inscription in Nagapattinum in Tamil Nadu and in the Sri Lankan chronicles, Mahavamsa. During the first millennium, the people of the Malay peninsula adopted Hinduism and Buddhism and the use of the Sanskrit language until they eventually converted to Islam, but not before Hinduism, Buddhism and Sanskrit became embedded into the Malay worldview. Traces of the influences in political ideas, social structure, rituals, language, arts and cultural practices still can be seen to this day.
There are reports of other areas older than Kedah – the ancient kingdom of Ganganegara, around Bruas in Perak, for instance – that pushes Malaysian history even further into antiquity. If that is not enough, a Tamil poem, Pattinapillai, of the second century CE, describes goods from Kadaram heaped in the broad streets of the Chola capital; a seventh century Sanskrit drama, Kaumudhimahotsva, refers to Kedah as Kataha-nagari. The Agnipurana also mentions a territory known Anda-Kataha with one of its boundaries delineated by a peak, which scholars believe is Gunong Jerai. Stories from the Katasaritasagaram describe the elegance of life in Kataha.

In the early 15th century, the Sultanate of Malacca was established under a dynasty founded by Parameswara, a prince from Palembang with bloodline related to the royal home of Srivijaya, who fled from the island Temasek (now Singapore). Parameswara decided to establish his kingdom in Malacca after witnessing an astonishing incident where a white mouse deer kicked one of his hunting dogs. He took it as a sign of good luck and name his kingdom "Melaka" after the tree he was resting under. At its height, the sultanate controlled the areas which are now Peninsula Malaysia, southern Thailand (Patani), and the eastern coast of Sumatra. It existed for more than a century, and within that time period Islam spread to most of the Malay Archipelago. Malacca was the foremost trading port at the time in Southeast Asia.

In 1511, Malacca was conquered by Portugal, which established a colony there. The sons of the last sultan of Malacca established two sultanates elsewhere in the peninsula - the Sultanate of Perak to the north, and the Sultanate of Johor (originally a continuation of the old Malacca sultanate) to the south. After the fall of Malacca, three nations struggled for the control of Malacca Strait: the Portuguese (in Malacca), the Sultanate of Johor, and the Sultanate of Aceh. This conflict went on till 1641, when the Dutch (allied to the Sultanate of Johor) gained control of Malacca.

Britain established its first colony in the Malay peninsula in 1786, with the lease of the island of Penang to the British East India Company by the Sultan of Kedah. In 1824, the United Kingdom/British took control of Malacca following the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 which divided the Malaya archipelago between Britain and the Netherlands, with Malaya in the British zone. In 1826, Britain established the crown colony of the Straits Settlements, uniting its three possessions in Malaya: Penang, Malacca and Singapore. The Straits Settlements were administered under the East India Company in Calcutta until 1867, when they were transferred to the Colonial Office in London.

During the late 19th century, many Malay states decided to obtain British help in settling their internal conflicts. The commercial importance of tin mining in the Malay states to merchants in the Straits Settlements led to British government intervention in the tin-producing states in the Malay Peninsula. British gunboat diplomacy was employed to bring about a peaceful resolution to civil disturbances caused by Chinese gangsters, and the Pangkor Treaty of 1874 paved the way for the expansion of British influence in Malaya. By the turn of the 20th century, the states of Pahang, Selangor, Perak, and Negeri Sembilan, known together as the Federated Malay States (not to be confused with the Federation of Malaya), were under the de facto control of British Residents appointed to advise the Malay rulers. The British were "advisers" in name, but in reality they exercised substantial influence over the Malay rulers.

The remaining five states in the peninsula, known as the Unfederated Malay States, while not directly under rule from London, also accepted British advisors around the turn of the 20th century. Of these, the four northern states of Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu had previously been under Siamese control.

On the island of Borneo, Sabah was governed as the crown colony of British North Borneo, while Sarawak was acquired from Brunei as the personal kingdom of the Brooke family, who ruled as White Rajahs.

Following the Japanese occupation of Malaya) during World War II, popular support for independence grew.[10] Post-war British plans to unite the administration of Malaya under a single crown colony called the Malayan Union foundered on strong opposition from the Malays, who opposed the emasculation of the Malay rulers and the granting of citizenship to the ethnic Chinese.[11] The Malayan Union, established in 1946 and consisting of all the British possessions in Malaya with the exception of Singapore, was dissolved in 1948 and replaced by the Federation of Malaya, which restored the autonomy of the rulers of the Malay states under British protection.

During this time, rebels under the leadership of the Communist Party of Malaya launched guerrilla operations designed to force the British out of Malaya. The Malayan Emergency, as it was known, lasted from 1948 to 1960, and involved a long anti-insurgency campaign by Commonwealth troops in Malaya.Against this backdrop, independence for the Federation within the Commonwealth was granted on 31 August 1957.
In 1963 the Federation was renamed Malaysia with the admission of the then-British crown colonies of Singapore, Sabah (British North Borneo) and Sarawak. The Sultanate of Brunei, though initially expressing interest in joining the Federation, withdrew from the planned merger due to opposition from certain segments of the population as well as arguments over the payment of oil royalties and the status of the Sultan in the planned merger.
The childhood of independence were marred by conflict with Indonesia (Konfrontasi) over the formation of Malaysia, Singapore's eventual exit in 1965, and racial strife in the form of racial riots in 1969. The Philippines also made an active claim on Sabah in that period based upon the Sultanate of Brunei's cession of its north-east territories to the Sultanate of Sulu in 1704. The claim is still ongoing. After the May 13 racial riots of 1969, the controversial New Economic Policy - intended to increase the share of the economic pie owned by the bumiputras ("indigenous people", which includes the majority Malays, but not always the indigenous population) as opposed to other ethnic groups - was launched by Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak. Malaysia has since maintained a delicate ethno-political balance, with a system of government that has attempted to combine overall economic development with political and economic policies that favour Bumiputras.

Between the 1980s and the mid 1990s, Malaysia experienced significant economic growth under the premiership of Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad.The period saw a shift from an agriculture-based economy to one based on manufacturing and industry in areas such as computers and consumer electronics. It was during this period, too, that the physical landscape of Malaysia has changed with the emergence of numerous mega-projects. The most notable of these projects are the Petronas Twin Towers (at the time the tallest building in the world), KL International Airport (KLIA), North-South Expressway, the Sepang F1 Circuit, the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), the Bakun hydroelectric dam and Putrajaya, a new federal administrative capital.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Malaysia is a federation of thirteen states in Southeast Asia.The country consists of two geographical regions divided by the South China Sea

Peninsular Malaysia (or West Malaysia) on the Malay Peninsula shares a land border on the north with Thailand and is connected by the Johor-Singapore Causeway and the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link to the south with Singapore. It consists of nine sultanates (Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu), two states headed by governors (Malacca and Penang), and two federal territories (Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur).

Malaysian Borneo (or East Malaysia) occupies the northern part of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia and surrounding the Sultanate of Brunei. It consists of the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan.The name "Malaysia" was adopted in 1963 when the Federation of Malaya (Malay: Persekutuan Tanah Melayu), Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak formed a 14-state federation.Singapore was expelled from the federation in 1965 and subsequently became an independent country.

Although politically dominated by the Malays, modern Malaysian society is heterogeneous, with substantial Chinese and Indian minorities. Malaysian politics have been noted for their allegedly communal nature; the three major component parties of the Barisan Nasional each restrict membership to those of one ethnic group. However, the only major intercommunal violence the country has seen since independence was the May 13 racial riots of 1969 that occurred in the wake of an election campaign that was dominated by racial issues.