Monday, August 26

A historic royal visit


India Street bursts into colours and cheers as the King and his consort grace its thoroughfare

The King and Queen at a handicraft shop. Also seen are Wee (left) and Asfia (second right). — Bernama photo

KUCHING: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah and the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah went on a walkabout at the India Street Pedestrian Mall at 4.30pm yesterday.

The royal couple was welcomed by Sarawak Legislative Assembly Speaker Datuk Amar Asfia Awang Nassar and his wife Datin Amar Fatimah Iskandar; Tourism, Culture, Arts, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and his wife Datin Zuraini Abdul Jabbar, State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi Abdul Ghani and Federal Secretary Datuk Mansor Man.

The royal couple being welcomed by Wee (tird right) upon arrival at the India Street Pedestrian Mall.

They created history as the first royal couple to visit India Street, a popular pedestrian mall located in the heart of the city.

The mall was beautifully decorated and festooned with national and state flags, replicas of ‘ketupat’ and ‘bunga ranyai’ to welcome them.

The royal couple spent more than an hour at the mall walking on the covered pavement and looking at the various types of merchandise being sold, ranging from food, handicrafts, textiles, kitchen utensils, hardware, books and other things.

Their Majesties stopped at Jubilee Restaurant, an Indian-Muslim outlet which is popular for its ‘nasi briyani kambing’ dish and sampled its roti canai and drinks.

The royal couple also stopped by at the handicraft stalls and fabric shops and at a shop selling bakery ingredients, while the colourful murals along the street walls also caught their attention.

The King and Queen being greeted by a representative of the Indian Muslim community. — Bernama photo

The King and Queen were presented with gifts in the form of layer cakes, mugs with painted mural, and fabric by Dato Wee Hong Seng, the chairman of India Street Pedestrian Mall Committee.

The royal couple are in the city on a two-day working visit which ends today.

Sally Bong @ Mrs Leong, a retired nurse, who was among the crowd of about 1,000 people welcoming them at the
India Street Pedestrian Mall, said the royal couple was very gracious.

“I am very excited to be here, and as a citizen of Malaysia, I feel very honoured. This is the first time I see the royal couple face-to-face, they are very humble to come to the India Street Pedestrian Mall,” said Bong.

First time traveller from London to Malaysia and Kuching, Natalie Curling, her husband Roderick Sheen and a friend, Mary Arimond, were as excited as the locals to see the royal couple.

The royal couple and the dignitaries having coffee at one of the shops.

“We heard that the King and Queen of Malaysia will be here, and we are excited to see the Malaysian royals here at the mall,” said Curling.

A resident of India Street Pedestrian Mall, Fadillah Jahabardin, whose grandfather operates a shop there, feels that this is an opportunity of a lifetime.

“We feel very happy because we don’t get the opportunity to see the royals. We feel honoured that the royals would come to a common place like this,” said Fadillah.

Curling (right), Sheen (centre) and Arimond are among the excited tourists to see the royal couple.