On Thursday I had the opportunity to be present at The Balairong Seri (the main court) of the new Istana Negara. The event started promptly at 9.30am when the King and Queen slowly walked into the hall before taking their seats at the throne. They were flanked by a cotterie of military and police officers. I was made to understand the sword carrying police officer flanking him on the throne is nothing less than an SACP. They are a lot of dos and don’ts that we have to abide. I have to wear a black baju Melayu with matching black pants and samping. I even had to wear black shoes, not simply any black shoes but must be black leather shoes with strings. Slip on shoes are forbidden. Of course the songkok had to be black as well. unfortunately no photographs were allowed to be taken during the ceremony. Of course handphone had to be switched off. You have to speak in whispers and not to cross your legs. Boy fortunately the event lasted only about one and a half hour, or else we could be dozing off quite comfortably. I really admire the queen who could maintain the poise, composure, and alertness throughout the ceremony. After all she is a commoner, not quite trained like the royals who attended this sort of events many times since their youths.
The hall itself is huge and could easily accommodate, to my estimate, 700-800 sitting guests. Since they are using this huge classic chair, the place could accommodate about 1000 guest had they been using the normal banquet chairs. Most of the deco are traditional malay motives painted with gold. In fact yellow and gold are the main colour in the room. The carpet is so plush you could hide 10 sen coin in it. The PA system is perfect and air cond is just nice.
You have to follow the protocols. When your name is announced, you stand and bow, walk to the centre court. Stand still for a few seconds and walk slowly to the throne. After the third platform, you stand erect and give another bow. Walk straight to the king, stopping at a reachable distance. Let him hang the medal, shake his hand, say thank you, take a step back, give another bow. Turn to the right (since my seat is on the right), walk slowly back to your seat, making a right angled turn to your seat. When you reach your seat give another bow, then only you can sit. In such a hallowed hall, you cannot simply do whatever you like or seat in whatever manner you like. One guest was quietly told off by the “bentara” for crossing her legs and reading message from her phone. I cannot imagine doing this a few times a year.
All this royal courts traditions I was told has been watered down and much simplified as compared to some states. in olden days, one even had to bend on their knees when approaching he king.