Sultan of Selangor’s capping of 22 Datukship this year the best news this year and a most exemplary benchmark as an important first step to restore public confidence in the credibility and legitimacy of state honours and titles
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament House, Thursday): The Sultan of Selangor’s capping of 22 Datukships to be awarded this year, down from 33 given last year, is the best news this year and a most exemplary benchmark as an important first step to restore public confidence in the credibility and legitimacy of state honours and titles.
Until recently, Sabah was the butt of jokes, with the Sabah State Assembly in 2001 being told of the joke going around in the peninsula that “if you throw a stone into a crowd in Sabah, not only will it hit a datuk but it will ricochet off him and hit another datuk”.
Recently, the Sabah disease had spread across the South China Sea, as evident by the conferment of 84 new Datuks by the Malacca state and 109 Datuks by Pahang – to the extent that the joke about a stone richochetting from a Datuk hitting another Datuk can be told with glee by Sabahans about peninsular Malaysia with a variation, that the stone would also hit a datuk in a second richochet, hitting three Datuks with one stone’s throw!
Malaysia in fact will have a mind-boggling number of 3,000 new Datuks from state honours alone this year on the basis of the conferment of 84 new Datuks by the Malacca state with a population of some 700,000 people.
The Sultan of Selangor deserves the highest praise of all Malaysians for breaking this vicious circle.
In the past two years, the Federal Government had expressed concern about the huge number of state awards given out each year, to the extent of devaluing the public standing of state datukships.
In November last year, the then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim, said only three states were not involved in the Datukship-for-sale racket, with the market price for the award ranging from RM50,000 to RM200,000.
However, such concerns together with periodic mass media criticisms had all come to nought, and the situation had continued to worsen in the past year – until the announcement by the Sultan of Selangor of the cap on 22 Datuks coming as a complete breath of fresh air in what Malaysians have despaired as an impossible and incorrigible situation. Malaysians hope and pray that the Sultan of Selangor’s capping on the number of Datukships - a great contribution to the creation of a national integrity system - will mark the beginning of a new chapter not only in Selangor but in Malaysia as well.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman