IT WAS once the home of a Malay king. Now, about S$17mil (RM37.4mil) and more than 160 years later, the Istana Kampong Gelam will tell the story of Singapore’s Malays.
Through the 200 or so artefacts in its museum, it will reveal who they are, where they came from and the place they hold in Singapore’s history.
The story will be told in dioramas similar to those in the Singapore History Museum, depicting places, events and snippets of life among the Malays through the ages.
Zainul Abidin Rasheed, who chairs the Malay Heritage Foundation management committee and is also mayor of the northeast district, said: “The four walls of the Istana will encapsulate the whole theme of the Malay Heritage Centre – the history, traditions, culture and future challenges of the Malay community.”
The original Istana was an all-timber building.
Sultan Hussein Shah’s son, Sultan Ali, then commissioned British architect George Coleman, who designed many of Singapore’s historical buildings, to come up with a new one. It was completed in 1842.
That has now been restored according to Coleman’s design, including its circular walkway which stretches from the main building to the gate.
Timber and cement are used to replicate the interior flooring.
The palace foundations have been strengthened so that underground facilities can be built later on.
Restoration and conservation work on the palace, which stands on an 8,500 sq metre site near Arab Street, began in 2000.
The Istana is expected to open in November. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network