Safeguarding the sanctity of honorific titles
With more and more 'Datuks' in our midst, the title's value has been remarkably diluted, and its true significance has gradually dissipated.
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar of Johor said someone had offered him RM2 million for the “Tan Sri” title. Following his revelation, the MACC has sought an audience with the Ruler in the hope of getting the suspect’s particulars and to initiate a probe into the matter.
Once again, the issue of bought and bogus titles has drawn widespread attention in Malaysian society.
We cannot deny that there are indeed more and more title holders in our country, in particular the Datuks.
The Johor Sultan said in an interview recently: “In Malaysia, if I were to close my eyes and throw a pebble, it may hit the head of a Datuk and that same pebble may bounce off the head of another Datuk, and if luck has it, the pebble may also hit a Tan Sri.”
The proliferation of undeserved honorific titles must be seriously looked into. This phenomenon of increasing numbers of young individuals awarded the “Datuk” title and the abundance of bogus title-holders has raised the concern among the public.
Parliament recently passed the Offenses relating to Awards Act 2016 as well as the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) (Amendment) Act 2016 with the purpose of checking bogus awards through tougher penalties.
The awarding of honorific titles is meant to show recognition for the recipient’s contribution towards society and the nation. In order to safeguard the sanctity of these titles, it is essential to institute very strict vetting procedures.
In conjunction with his 59th birthday recently, Sultan Ibrahim conferred state awards to 102 individuals, of whom only three received awards which allowed them to carry the “Datuk” and “Datuk Seri” titles. This showed that the Ruler was very strict in handing out such awards.
The same goes for Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah of Selangor. Only individuals above the age of 45 can be conferred the “Datuk” title. Such strict criteria are meant to safeguard the sanctity of these titles.
“Datuk” is supposed to be a highly treasured title, but with more and more “Datuks” walking in our midst, the title’s value has been remarkably diluted, and its true significance gradually dissipating.
In the face of the proliferation of bogus and undeserved title-holders, perhaps we should rethink the true meaning behind the awarding of such titles.
These titles must be awarded to deserving individuals who have contributed positively toward society and the nation instead of being reduced to just walking “signs” and “tools” of our society.