Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal Office


Establishment

The Office of the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal was established in 1948 in accordance with the Federation of Malaya Agreement which came into force on 01.02.1948 to replace the government under the Malayan Union. The Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal serves as Secretary to the Council of Rulers which held its inaugural meeting on 18.02.1948.

From 1948 to 1957, the Council of Rulers was composed of nine Malay rulers whose role was to discuss and advise the British High Commissioner on the administration of the Federation of Malaya. The Federation of Malaya comprised nine Malay states with rulers and two Straits Settlements, namely Penang and Province Wellesley and Melaka, each of which was headed by a British Resident Commissioner. However, the British heads of administration were not part of the Council of Rulers.

The Office of the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal continued to exist after the country’s independence on 31.08.1957 with two Governors (now called the Yang di-Pertua Negeri) from the states of Penang and Melaka becoming members of the Conference of Rulers in accordance with the provisions of Article 38 of the Federal Constitution. After 16.09.1963, the Yang di-Pertua of Sabah and of Sarawak (other than Singapore until 09.08.1965) became part of the Conference of Rulers.

Today, the Office of the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal is managed by a 15-member staff. The management team comprises the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, who is appointed in accordance with the Fifth Schedule of the Federal Constitution and serves as the Head of Department, and the Assistant Secretary to the Conference of Rulers. The other personnel comprise 13 officers/staff members appointed by the government.

Location

On 24 April 2003, the construction of the new building for the Office of the Rulers’ Keeper Seal was duly completed. The 4-acre area, which includes living quarters for the staff, is located at No. 482 Jalan Bukit Petaling and nestles in the heart of the national capital of Kuala Lumpur surrounded by administrative buildings, embassies, government staff quarters, and the old National Palace. Previously, this office operated in several locations, including:-

Department Logo

The logo of the Office of the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal was designed by Ismail Bukhary bin Abdullah Bukhary, PSK, AMN, JC (ST JOHN), PB (SCOUTS) in 1987, in conjunction with the 141st Conference of Rulers meeting which was held from 28-29 July 1987 at the State Palace, Kota Bharu, Kelantan. A native of Kelantan Darul Naim, he is a writer, logo designer and consultant.

Functions of the Office of the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal

The Office of the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal is the Secretariat to the Conference of Rulers. It carries out the following activities:-

  • Serves notices of meetings to members of the Conference of Rulers;
  • Issues notices to the Federal ministries and departments for the submission of a memorandum/briefing for royal assent/presentation at the Conference of Rulers meeting;
  • Prepares the agenda for the first and second days of the Conference of Rulers meeting (3 times a year);
  • Co-ordinates the Menteri Besar and Chief Minister meeting prior to the Conference of Rulers meeting (3 times a year);
  • Co-ordinates the Pre-Conference Meeting of the Conference of Rulers (3 times a year);
  • Co-ordinates the Conference of Rulers meeting (3 times a year);
  • Prepares the minutes of the Menteri Besar and Chief Minister meeting for the Conference of Rulers meeting;
  • Prepares the minutes of the first day of the Conference of Rulers meeting to be distributed to its members on the same day;
  • Prepares and distributes the minutes of the Conference of Rulers meeting for the action of agencies and to obtain feedback/follow-up;
  • Co-ordinates the Conference of Rulers (special) meeting to elect the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong (once every 5 years);
  • Co-ordinates the Conference of Rulers (special) meeting pertaining to the swearing-in ceremony of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong (once every 5 years);
  • Co-ordinates any meetings (special) from time to time as and when required to do so by His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or by not fewer than three members of the Conference;
  • Manages the matter of appointments as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. Advises His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the granting of royal assent for the appointment of Chairmen, Deputy Chairmen and members of the following after having been approved by the Conference of Rulers:-
    1. Public Service Commission;
    2. Education Service Commission;
    3. Election Commission;
    4. Auditor-General;
    5. Chief Justice of the Federal Court, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of Malaya, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, and Judges of the Federal Court, Court of Appeal and High Court;
    6. Two Judges of the Special Court;
    7. Chairman, Deputy Chairman, Secretary and members of the National Council for Islamic Affairs in Malaysia;
    8. Chairman and members of the Fatwa Committee of the National Council for Islamic Affairs of Malaysia;
    9. Chairman and members of the Advisory Board for the Co-ordination of Islamic Studies and Education (LEPAI); and
    10. National Chief Scout
  • Arranges the transport of the rulers/Yang di-Pertua attending the Conference of Rulers meeting and other affairs;
  • Manages the Government Group vehicles and special aircraft for use during the Conference of Rulers meeting;
  • Co-ordinates the Committee for the Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha Moon-Sighting; and
  • Co-ordinates and communicates the results of determination of dates for the Ramadan fasting month, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal

Initially, the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal was the most senior government servant. It had been decided at a meeting of the Conference of Rulers that the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal should not be lower in stature than the most senior Menteri Besar, who at the time was a senior government servant. The justification for this was that the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal acts on behalf of all the rulers, whereas the Menteri Besar only represents the ruler in his own state. Furthermore, the Rulers still had, to some extent, executive power thus Their Highnesses required the services of a senior officer.

After independence, the executive power of the rulers transferred to the people. Hence, the office of the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal no longer carries the same responsibilities as in the past.

The Fifth Schedule of the Federal Constitution provides that:

Section 3. The Conference of Rulers shall have a Rulers’ Seal, which shall be kept in the custody of a person appointed by the Conference.
"Section 4. The person appointed under Section 3 shall be known as the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, shall act as Secretary to the Conference of Rulers and shall hold his office at the pleasure of the Council.
Section 6. The Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal shall convene the Conference of Rulers whenever required to do so by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or by not less than three members of the Conference and, without being so required, not later than four weeks before the expiry of the term of office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and whenever a vacancy occurs in that office or in the office of the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong.””

The title, Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, originates from Britain where it has been used since more than 600 years ago, traversing from faraway England to Malaysia via India. The person bearing this title is known by this name as he is charged with the custody of the Rulers’ Seal. Not many people are aware of his duties. The Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal is the secretary to the Conference of Rulers (Section 4 of the Fifth Schedule of the Federal Constitution).

The Great Seal

The Rulers’ Seal or the Great Seal is kept and used by the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal as provided for under Section 4 of the Fifth Schedule of the Federal Constitution. There are two seals in total, the first weighs 93 kg and measures 51 cm (l) x 22 cm (w) x 52 cm (h) and the second weighs 38 kg and measures 51 cm (l) x 14 cm (w) x 35.5 cm (h). The second seal, being smaller and lighter, is easily taken out of the office when necessary. The seal contains the coats of arms of the nine Malay States and is inscribed with the words "Mohor Besar Raja-Raja Negeri Melayu” in Jawi script. Rulers’ Seal, which continues to be used to this day.

Both the seals were made in England in 1949 at a cost of £211.10.

Function of the Great Seal

The Great Seal has several functions:

  • It symbolises the power and rights of the institution of the Conference of Rulers.
  • It symbolises power as it arises from the highest authority in the country.
  • An instrument which bears the Great Seal signifies confidence and authority.
  • It epitomises the authority of an instrument.
  • The seal is proof of authenticity of an instrument.
  • Since the effect of pressure would change the surface texture of the paper itself, the impression made by the Great Seal would last longer than the ink impression made by an ordinary rubber stamp.

Usage of the Great Seal

Every official document issued by the Conference of Rulers must bear the Great Seal and signature of the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal as well as the date and place where the document is issued and the Great Seal is stamped. This serves to verify that the instrument or document is issued by the Office of the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal by order of the Conference of Rulers.

Among the documents that require the Great Seal are:

  • The instrument containing the results of the election of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong from the Conference of Rulers to be submitted to the Speaker of the Senate (Dewan Negara), the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat) and the Prime Minister.
  • The letter of appointment of a ruler as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
  • The instrument for appointments as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

Organisational Chart

Carta Organisasi Pejabat Penyimpan Mohor Besar Raja-raja

Former Keepers of the Rulers’ Seal

    1. Raja Ayob bin Raja Haji Bot
      February 1948 - May 1948

    1. Toh Muda Abdullah bin Nordin
      Junw 1948 - Mac 1949

    1. Raja Haji Shahar Shah bin Raja Haron
      April 1949 - December 1949

    1. Tengku Husin bin Tengku Yahaya
      January 1950 - May 1950

    1. Tunku Ya'acob ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah
      May 1950 – January 1952

    1. Dato’ Haji Mustafa Al-Bakri bin Haji Hasan
      February 1952 – January 1954

    1. Tunku Ya'acob ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah
      February 1954 – January 1956

    1. Dato’ Haji Mustafa Al-Bakri bin Haji Hasan
      February 1956 – September 1957

    1. Dato' Abdul Rahim bin Abdul Rauf
      October 1957 - June 1963 (Acting)

    1. Tan Sri Tunku Shahriman bin Tunku Sulaiman
      June 1963 - August 1963 (Acting)

    1. Tan Sri Aziz bin Zakaria
      August 1963 - Mac 1964 (Acting)

    1. Tan Sri Ahmad bin Haji Husin
      Mac 1964 – October 1980

    1. Datuk Ahmad Zainal Abidin bin Muhammad Yusof
      November 1980 - September 1988

    1. Encik A. Rahim bin Kassim (Penolong Setiausaha Majlis Raja-raja)
      February 1988 - December 1988 (Acting)

    1. Tan Sri Engku Ibrahim bin Engku Ngah
      January 1989 - January 2011