KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 – There was an air of sadness at the Istana Negara today as its 574 staff said goodbye to Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and Tuanku Hajah Haminah, whose term as the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Raja Permaisuri Agong ends on Monday.
The sounds of “zikir” and “selawat” recordings which were played in the lobby of Istana Negara added to the sadness felt by the palace staff with some even crying. Even Tuanku Abdul Halim and Tuanku Hajah Haminah teared up as they shook hands with the staff and whispered words of advice.
Head of the Palace Guards, Rusli Asri, who had served eight Yang di-Pertuan Agong, said the moment of separation with each of them was very sad. “It is sad each time the Yang di-Pertuan Agong leaves us. Even when I was shaking the hands of Tuanku Abdul Halim and Tuanku Hajah Haminah just now, I could not look at their faces because I was choked up,” he said, adding that his scope of duties was to hold the umbrella for His Majesty and to lay down the prayer mat for him to pray.
Rusli had served with Istana Negara since 1981 during the tenure of the Sultan of Pahang, Sultan Ahmad Shah as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. He described Tuanku Abdul Halim and Tuanku Hajah Haminah as a king and queen who were always concerned about the staff with some of them looking up at their majesties as their own parents.
Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Wira Awang Kechik Abdul Rahman said Tuanku Abdul Halim always reminded his staff to carry out their duties with sincerity. He said His Majesty was very concerned about the welfare of the staff and always asked about them.
Istana Negara’s assistant cook Zaini Said said among his fondest memories with Tuanku Hajah Haminah was cooking with her in the kitchen. He said Tuanku Permaisuri often cooked Tuanku Abdul Halim’s favourite food which were simple dishes and traditional desserts like curry, serawa pisang, laksa and kuih lopis. “Tuanku Permaisuri often gave me tips, especially in the kitchen, such as about the old Malay recipes,” he said, with tears in his eyes. — Bernama