A consideration of the income of a Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Sultans as contained in the Civil List Act 1982 for the consideration of the rakyat charmingly written by an Encik Fahri Azzat.
The Civil List Act 1982 is instructive reading as it contains the amounts paid to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for the masterful performance of his Royal Duties. Section 2(1) of the Act provides that his Highness shall receive an annual sum as contained in the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Schedule.
The First Schedule provides for a Privy Purse of RM 468,000.00 (or if he received a higher sum as Sultan, then that sum would apply), RM 156,000.00 for entertainment and Istana Negara Royal Allowance of RM 187,200.00. A grand total of RM 811,200.00. This is paid directly to his Highness.
The Second Schedule provides for Istana Expenses and Hospitality of RM 2,259,100.00, Salaries of Staff of the Istana of RM1,514,700.00 and Royal Bounty, Alms and Special Services of RM50,000.00. All that amounts to RM 3,823,800.00 and is payable directly to the “controlling officer” appointed pursuant to section 15A of the Financial Procedure Act 1957. These are officers appointed by the Finance Minister (or State Financial Authority), to manage, regulate, execute and account for that expenditure.
The Third Schedule provides for the Raja Permaisuri Agong’s allowances which are a Privy Purse of RM 87,360.00, entertainment allowance of RM 28,080.00 and an Istana Negara Royal Allowance of RM 36,000.00. A grand total of RM 151,440.00.
Both the payments under the First and Third Schedules are “payable monthly on the last day of each month or on such other day of the month as the Minister of Finance may from time to time determine.” (see section 5(2) of the Act)
Finally, the Fourth Schedule is in respect of “such sums as may be necessary for the provisions of privileges”. There is no sum stipulated in the Schedule except for the phrase: “There shall be provided such privileges as may be determined by the Cabinet from time to time.” The same discretion is also applied to section 3 of the Act which provides for their Highness’s “Other privileges”.
How interesting. That sure would be useful in one’s armoury of persuasion!
All this is of course paid out of the “Consolidated Fund”. This is defined in Article 97(1) of the Federal Constitution which provides as follows:
All revenues and moneys howsoever raised or received by the Federation shall, subject to the provisions of this Constitution and of federal law, be paid into and form one fund, to be known as the Federal Consolidated Fund.
Basically our taxes and whatever money raised by government goes towards paying at least RM 4,786,440 (adding up the first three Schedules) for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Raja Permaisuri Agong and their household. I think the equivalent or thereabouts is paid to the Sultans in their State.
So let’s make a rough estimate here starting with rounding the figure down to a still generous RM 4 million per Sultan/Agong. Since there are nine of them that amounts to a minimum of RM 36 million spent on them a year. Wow.
The other point is this: since their Highness’s are paid such generous allowances, should they be soiling their pristine royal hands with the rigours of hard work and business dealings. Is it seemly for our royalty who are held in high regard to be seen squabbling over matters of ringgit and sen?
I for one could live a perfectly content life with such an allowance and see no need for troubling myself any further where that is concerned preferring to spend more time attending to the needs of the rakyat, after all one cannot rule over no one. What is more, I would argue that it is in their interest to do so. For example, if I felt much more were needed to sustain my lifestyle, I would gather my royal brothers (pretend lah!) and persuade all of them to jointly apply to Cabinet to ask them to amend the Schedules accordingly since that is in their discretion to amend.
But to go into business I think is not terribly fair on the rest of us because they would effectively be taking away that potential income from the rakyat, whom let us not forget are already paying them and their household a generous allowance. They have advantage of a limited immunity, which would still make suing them a hassle because the Attorney General would have to first consent to it. So they have an inherent advantage over most of the rakyat where business opportunities are concerned not just because of their legal status but also because of their “awe factor” where people would want them in their companies to heighten their profile or improve their image. You want Royalty X in your company or Encik Whocares? Not to mention their no doubt impressive network connections and increasingly noticeable political activity (i.e. the demand for the return of their full immunity made not too long ago).
But then what do I know of royal life and pursuits (aside from maybe poor golfing), eh? And let us look to the silver lining no matter how thin and tattered it may be – we should celebrate and nurture their Highness’s entrepreneurial and social flair. After all, we don’t want them to look shabby compared to the other royalties in the world, now do we? So all of you out there, please be generous in your dealings with them, if ever you are fortunate enough to do so. It is in all our interest. Malaysian Boleh!