Belakang Punya Dato’

By Fahri Azzat

The award of titles in Malaysia (the conferring of the title of Dato’/Datuk [and its meaningless variations], Tan Sri’s, Tun’s, and other lesser awards like AMN, JPK, ETC. ) has paralleled political developments in our country since Merdeka – a steady unflinching march from honour to farce.

Penguin Knighted

Sir Penguin ate a lot of small fish

In my childhood during the 1980’s meeting a Dato’ was an occasion because they were rare (and so rarer still was the Tan Sri-ship and Tun-ship). Back then the government and Sultans (well, not all of them) appeared to possess a semblance of restraint and a much higher standard in recognizing selfless devotion to country. The title was awarded to a few people and usually only to those with unimpeachable integrity and character. And often you could trace easily what contribution they did for our country.

This is how it should have continued to be.

But since Tun Dr. Mahatir desecrated most of our hallowed institutions to achieve materialistic glory for our country, the conferment of awards has followed this materialistic reckless trend. The discretion to award titles may have been secret before but their choices at least reflected patriotic concerns. That discretion now is exercised so generously and perversely that just about every Tom’s Hairy Dick can buy one. Throw a stone these days and you will hit at least half a dozen titled people before the stone finally hits the marbled floor.

My grossly inaccurate estimate evisages that if this trend continues by 2020, half our nation will be comprised of Dato’s. These are some of the ways the government and the Sultans have ruined the titles in Malaysia:

Remember Abdul Malik Mydin? In 2003, the 28 year old that was awarded a Dato’ship for his glorious feat of mediocrity by swimming the English Channel with barriers in 17 hours and 42 minutes with great accompanying fanfare. In contrast, Lennard Lee, a 20 year old Oxford medical student from Malaysia in 2004 swam it for charity without any barriers or fanfare did it in 9 hours 45 minutes hardly garnered a mention in our local press never mind a title. Dr. Lennard Lee in 2008 then conquered the Gibraltar Straits in 3 hours 45 minutes. Question: Has Datuk Abdul Malik Mydin done anything worthy of mention since 2003? If you do let me know because I cannot find anything of worth about him on Google.

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