An association representing Datuks in Malaysia is urging state governments to adopt stringent criteria while awarding the titles
According to Free Malaysia Today, the Council of Federal Datuks Malaysia (MDPM) said their desire to restore honour associated with the title comes after recent reports of several Datuks being involved in criminal activities.
Although the report does not mention the group, it is believed that MDPM was referring to the 'Nicky Gang' case where four Datuks and two Datuk Seris have been charged for being members of or aiding an organised crime group.
"The decision to award a title is the prerogative of the Sultans and governors. It is not for anyone to say who should or should not be given the titles," a MDPM spokesperson told the news portal.
However, he said that the vetting process prior to conferring the titles could have been tightened.
To receive an honourific, one can either be nominated for their public service, politics, sports, NGOs, and social work; or they can be nominated by the royal palaces and governors' offices
"Once a name is put forth, a committee under the protocol department will vet the nominees," the spokesperson explained.
"But the criteria is not the same for all states, some like Johor, Selangor, and Penang are exemplary in their vetting."
He said the three states follow a strict process to background check the nominees to find out whether or not they have any criminal and bankruptcy records.
He also proposed a mechanism to revoke a person's title once they have committed a crime and cannot prove their innocence.
Let's bring back the honour in our honourifics.
Meanwhile, National Patriots Association president Mohamed Arshad Raji suggested the number of honourifics given in a year be limited
"There are so many Datuks that the title has almost lost value," Mohamed Arshad said.
"In the old days, it was awarded to those who had made such a big contribution to society that the public would know why they deserved the title."
"Now we read that people with Datuk titles are being arrested for crimes and corruption. A lot of the time, no one knows who these people are."
He said advisers to governors and rulers should take proactive measures to background check these Datuks and those with dubious backgrounds should have their titles stripped.
Last month, when several individuals using and awarding fake 'Datukships' were arrested, MDPM commended the police for enforcing the Offences Relating to Awards Act (Act 787), reported The Star.
Under Section 3 of the law, anyone who receives or uses unrecognised awards can be imprisoned for up to three years.
MDPM president Datuk Awalan Abdul Aziz said the arrest of those individuals would send a strong deterrent to the public and other 'Datuk' organisations.
On 9 April, Datuk Seri Nicky Liow Soon Hee, another Datuk Seri, and four other Datuks were charged at the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court: