Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Datukship (2)

FMT - When a Datuk dishonours his title

In the above article Mariam Mokhtar asked about the necessity of stripping a Datuk of his title when he has been found guilty of committing a crime. She mentioned the recent arrest by the MACC of several Datuks in Sabah, a happening which prompted her to pen the article (in anticipation?).

She has a point because in my reading I came across some such Datuks, namely those who have committed crimes of one sort or another who went into prison and emerged still as datuks, with their awards totally intact. I wonder what or how  the wardens addressed those datuks as?

First on the list by virtue of his so-called fame (r notoriety) is Anwar Ibrahim. Should he be stripped of his title?

I can hear tumultuous shouts of outraged protests from his adorers and supporters because they believe he has been framed for his crime of sodomy, a felon in Malaysia.

Then there was Datuk Harun Idris, a former MB of Selangor, who was once touted as a potential PM of Malaysia. Whether he had a direct agitating role in the May 13 riot remains an area of intense debate until today. Some Chinese called him a saint while others (Chinese) saw/see him as a devil. He has left us for a better place. Al Fatihah.

I believe there was another Datuk from Seremban who was sentenced to death for murdering another UMNO man for bonking his sister, but he was eventually pardoned.

Shouldn't they all be stripped of their royal award as Khir Toyo was of his when he went to prison for corruption?

Then there are still those who have been awarded Tan Sri's despite either committing a seditious act or low class crime when they should have been imprisoned - 'nuff said about the respectability of the federal awards.

Now, Najib Razak, Azmin Ali and Mahathir Mohamad have royal awarded titles. Say (hypothetically of course) if any of the three were to be arrested and imprisoned, then we wonder whether our society or royalty will act dunno again (except in the case of Khir Toyo, who incidentally, like the rumours about Moody, has remarried after being released, but to a Chinese sweetie - Congratulations, ex-Datuk).

In 2012 I had written about the Datukship awards. For full post please read my post Datukship which discussed the origin of the datuk awards, the English influence on our Malaysian system of royal/state honours and the abuse of the system. Now for an extract of that post (with some minor editing to improve it):

In every society there are humorous stories and also jokes about virtually every facet of life, but the jokes associated with Malaysian honours award system have been unfortunately cruel, laced with cynical sneers and/or disdainful contempt.

The one in notorious vogue just a few years back was that a Chinese or Indian in possession of a datukship could well be a crook or gangster who had shelled out plenty of moola to obtain the title, wakakaka.

Incidentally, have there been or are there still Malay gangsters other than Mat Rempits, some 'uniformed people', or allegedly an UMNO minister? wakakaka again.

Another Malaysian joke about datukship is that if one were to spit in a crowded place, there is a high probability that one's expectoration would hit at least three datuks, wakakaka.

My uncle told me that this particular joke would be akin to the old English joke/sneer about the multitude of Italian counts - unlike Malaysian datuks, counts were/are hereditary titles - with some even working as waiters serving cappuccinos at cafes.

Such was the snobbery of the English [who have a system similar to ours, or more correctly we have a system based on theirs]. But then, such was the proliferation of Italian counts, wakakaka, [but we need to bear in mind that once Italy was (before it became Italy) made up of umpteen sovereign states].

OK, in real life there could well have been Italian counts who were crooks or members of the Cosa Nostra (Sicilian Mafia) or 'Ndrangheta (Calabrese Mafia) or Camorra (Neapolitan Mafia), but there doesn't seem to be any English equivalent to our Malaysian (first) joke, namely, a titled gangster.

Now, the absence of such a joke about an English knight-gangster contrasts rather pointedly and indeed embarrassingly to our variety, indirectly implying we Malaysians certainly live up or, rather, down to our favourite national cry of Malaysia Boleh, in honouring even criminal hoodlums with knighthoods, wakakaka.

I just want to end this short post about a bloke who was once in our military.

As we know, once a military person is promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, he can and, in 99.99% of cases, will be awarded a datukship. The poor bloke happened to be the unfortunate 0.01% who was NOT a datuk. His superiors disliked him for his arrogance and swank, wakakaka, though he was quite a clean and efficient military leader. It goes to show the unjustness of the award system when far far worse examples were awarded datukships.

In Britain, unfortunately each year it (purportedly the Queen) virtually/automatically awards knighthoods to senior civil servants and military bigwigs of the ranks of Brig General and above, provided of course they haven't been publicly known to be involved in any scandals or crimes.

Stupidly we Malaysians have followed this last part to the extreme where it would be the rare senior civil servant, police senior officer or military general who is NOT a datuk of some sort, awarded at federal or state level, forgetting that we have 14 award systems to Britain's one, and 30 million population to Britain's 60.

The bloke I mentioned was not.

Thus, unless a person was recommended by his/her boss, there won't be any such award for him/her. This brings me to the point that in general the rulers weren't/aren't to be blamed if one of those alleged criminal gangsters becomes a datuk.

Because we follow the British parliamentary system of government, with the head of states (federal and states) being either constitutional monarchs or, in the non-sultanate states, of ceremonial status, it would be the cabinet or state exco, essentially politicians of the ruling party at either federal or state level, who would be the ones accepting and approving the recommendations for datukship, before the approved list is handed over to the respective ruler or YDN.

The rulers and YDN have only a minor role, to consent to the list of to-be datuks. In the case of a state ruler, yes, there is a slim possibility that he could well be difficult and either tell the PM or Menteri Besar to f* off with the list or more politely, declare he won't award a datukship to, say, kaytee, wakakaka. But this would be very rare and only if the state ruler is very headstrong, wakakaka again.

So, the politicians are to be blamed for making gangsters and crooks into datuks, for they (and their cohorts) would be the ones recommending candidates for awards, and vetting and approving the final list for the Agong, ruler or YDP to accept.

But then, shouldn't there be also a system for recommending to HRH or HM the need to strip someone of his datukship when the occasion arises?

The issue here is that such an award system is open to corruption, where (a) a deserving bloke could well be deliberately and unfairly omitted from the recommendations just because his/her boss doesn't like him/her, (b) an undesirable candidate, like the alleged criminal hoodlum, is proposed for a knighthood by his crony-politician or crony-community-leader, and (c) money changing hands for a person (not necessarily a criminal) to be recommended for the award.

Thus a remedying system should be in place to maintain the dignity of the award system, not just by stripping criminals of their datukship but also limiting states as to how many datuks they may award per annum. The Royal Council of Rulers should be advised of this.


  1. There seems to be an unwritten understanding that the current sultan wouldn't strip off any title awarded by the predecessor of the state.

    This contributes to the problem of datuk holding on to his title when he has been found guilty of committing a crime.

    1. not so in Johor, HRH stripped off the datukships of Chua Jui Meng and a Malay lady who went to the North Pole. Both were honoured by his late dad

  2. Once I was asked by my Chairman, a very well respected Tan Sri Datuk, to do a write-up on a person whom I know very well is corrupted for his recommendation for an award of federal Datukship. He got it. Wakakaka..

    I agree with KT's last line, wholeheartedly.

  3. dato/dato'/datuk ada 3 kategori i.e. a, b & c
    a - anugerah, b - beli & c - cucu kasi.

  4. one swallow does not make a summer!

    1. one swallow does not make a summer ..... make

    2. ck.. you sound like 'an X short of a Y'.

    3. one swallow does not make a summer ..... make, when red moon raises.

    4. Unknown.. you sound like 'an X paired with another X'.