By Dave Avran
Here’s the Malaysian SOP for getting a fast track Datoship broken down into 5 easy steps:
1. Make a lot of money (not necessarily legally)
2. Approach the agent in certain states and “contribute” the current market rate in Ringgit.
3. Attend the investiture. Take picture with the Sultan as evidence. Get your macai to congratulate you with full page ads in the newspapers.
4. Hire a driver and a bodyguard (preferrably armed). If you’re lucky you’ll get a two-in-one ex-forces guy.
5. Affix the official crest on your Toyota Alphard (this is compulsory – no other vehicle will do for the cruising comfort of a Dato’) Ride around holding your head up high in style knowing that you are above the rest of the village riff raff.
The fact is Malaysian society today has become very status-conscious, prompting some people to look for shortcuts to be acknowledged as somebody important minus any outstanding contributing to community, society or country or being a leader in their area of expertise or profession.
The Datuk title is akin to a British knighthood. Out of a population of 65,000,000 less than a 100 people will be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II this year compared to 700-1,200 new Datuks appointed annually in Malaysia, Our population of 30 million is less than half the United Kingdom’s, for comparison purposes.
Gone are the days when only senior civil servants, distinguished personalities and the affluent were worthy of titles. The Datoship has become a status symbol in today’s culture of instant gratification.
This rings especially true given that Malaysians are also obssessed with buying the most expensive and fancy car vanity number plates.
For the record, I respect those individuals who were conferred awards and titles as a result of their contributions to society and the well-being of the nation. These people truly deserve the recognition.
This article is about store-bought Datoships, much like how one buys a shelf company to plug and play business.
Recently Dato’ Ong Teik Kwong, 32, was shot dead by his own armed bodyguard in his car in Penang.
The police have confirmed that Ong was the head of the notorious “Gang 24′ and had been under police surveillance for some time
After being conferred his Datoship, Ong’s associates paid a total of RM150,000 for 50 full-page adverts in the local Chinese paper to congratulate him on his outstanding achievement.
Ong’s young age is a dead giveaway and raises many questions – Was he vetted before conferment? Was the character and background check conducted by PDRM comprehensive?
A simple google search reveals that Ong’s alleged brutal and murderous past is no secret.
Last month Al Jazeera’s 101 East investigative program highlighted a purported Baby-for-Sale syndicate operating in the Klang Valley.
Two of the main players named in the video program are a doctor husband and wife team with the titles of Datuk Seri and Datin Seri respectively who operate a medical centre that allegedly brokers the sale of babies.
Just before that, the MACC’s “Ops Water” exposed a shocking RM3.3 billion scandal where the Director and Deputy Director of the Sabah Water Department were allegedly involved in a multimillion-ringgit racket linked to the award of construction contracts.
While the Water Department director, Ag Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib, and his deputy, Teo Chee Kong are themselves not titled, they were aided and abetted by a whole bunch of datuks.
Around RM190 million in cash was recovered along with jewellery, designer bags, luxury vehicles and various land titles. The Finance Advisor, a Datuk and the Deputy Director’s brother, who is a businessman and a Datuk, was arrested too.
The height of Dato’ ridiculousness must surely have been reached two months ago in mid-October when images of a 19 year old “Dato’ Alvin Gor” started burning up social media.
To date his award has not been verified, but if it is indeed true then he has not pooped enough poo in his entire young life to even earn the first initial “D” in Dato’.
Given the recent spate of MACC arrests, there are numerous other examples I can give, but I think you get my drift by now.
So what happens to the Dato’/Datuk who is involved in organized crime and/or corruption?
For starters, he shames the esteemed Datuk fraternity, embarrasses his family, friends and colleagues, dishonours the palace that bestowed him the title and is a major embarrassment to his profession and the government department he works for if he is a civil servant.
All said and done, there’s no guarantee that an individual with a Datukship will not bring disrepute to the nation.
This is where our MPs need to demand that corrupt officials and crooked businessmen be stripped of the illustrious title.
The board that awards these titles need to pull up its socks and carefully scrutinise each nomination.
The members of the board will have been deemed to have failed the rakyat because countless Datuks are perceived to be either crooked businessmen or corrupt. They have brought serious disrepute to the Sultans from whom they received the titles.
It is also timely for the legitimate Datuks to rise up and defend their dignity and protect the sanctity of the prestigious ‘Datuk’ award as the crooked thugs sully their reputation, tarnish the songkok they wore for the investiture ceremony and render the award cheap and meaningless.
The vetting system for these awards clearly appears to have failed.
PDRM background checks on the criminal records of nominees for Datukships have also appeared to have failed. What are we the rakyat supposed to think when a known criminal brands himself as a Datuk?
The good news in all this is that a Datukship is revocable. The late Tan Sri Eric Chia got his Datukship from Selangor suspended while on trial for CBT (note that he had various other higher titles from other states). Datuk Saidin Thambi, former Selangor state assemblyman and executive councillor, also had his Datukship suspended during his corruption trial.
Pahang withdrew the Datukships of Koh Kim Teck, who was charged with the murder of his 14 year old nephew; and timber tycoon Tee Yam, for his involvement in criminal activities.
Till date the most famous stripping case (pun intended) has to be The Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah revoking Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Datukship in December 2014. (Note that Anwar still holds titles from seven other states)
In fact, his Royal Highness Sultan Sharafuddin leads the charge to bring back honour and respectability to the awards and titles.
In 2014, a total of 1,663 applications were received – 680 were nominations for state honours and 983 for Selangor state medals. Only 27 individuals received honours from the 680 applications.
All the recipients passed three vetting stages, which were the Royal Malaysian Police, Insolvency Department and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
Similarly in 2015, only 22 people were conferred the main Selangor state awards and titles from a total of 718 nominations received, with all recipients again going through the stringent three stage vetting process.
This year, in keeping with the Selangor Sultan’s highest standards, only 25 outstanding individuals out of the total 750 nominees were selected to receive state honours in conjunction with the Monarch’s 71st birthday.
Daulat Tuanku! I see some light at the end of the Dato’ glut tunnel.