Datukship awards: Selangor Sultan's decision to reduce yearly awards wise, necessary and timely

Press Statement
Kerk Kim Hock

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday):  New Straits Times reported today that Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah of Selangor would only award 40 people with the title " Datuk " in his birthday honours list next year to ensure that it would only go the those who deserve it.

I welcome the Sultan's decision which is wise, necessary and timely. I suggest that such a policy be adopted nationwide.

Additionally, I also call for the present system of allowing political parties to nominate people for Datukships be scrapped or at the very least, stringent conditions for such nominations be imposed, so as to maintain and uphold the image of such awards and to ensure that those who are given the titles are those who really deserve it.

In recent years, one common public criticism about Datukship awards is that there have been too many Datuks around and also that there seems to be a phenomenon where the recipients are people who are younger in age.

What is worse is the general public perception that there are cases where Datukship award is no longer an award of honours that it should be, instead it has become some sort of " commercial product ".

The reason for such true or otherwise perception stems from the nominations made by political parties and as such; there is a need to nib the problem in the bud.

In Malacca, the public talk and perception is that in some cases, Datukship award aspirants will have to make some donations to the political party which is nominating them or the successful ones will know how to show their gratitude and support the activities carried out by the political party in various ways.

Even if the political party does not set such precondition as generally believed to be, the voluntary action on the part of the Datukship recipients has often given rise to such negative public perceptions.

It is difficult and may be even impossible for the public to prove their general talk. Neither is it possible for the government to eradicate such talk.

The government must therefore take the necessary steps to protect the honours of such awards.


* Kerk Kim Hock, DAP Secretary General and MP for Kota Melaka