Sin Chew Daily: Is there anything wrong with Datukship for DAP YBs?

Does accepting royal conferment while still holding a government office constitute an unforgivable sin?

(Focus Malaysia) – WHEN Lim Kit Siang decided to accept the “Tan Sri” title – unlike his late comrade Dr Chen Man Hin who until he drew his last breath had refused any honorific title – there were heated discussions within DAP although few would dare to protest openly as Lim had already retired from politics by then.

That DAP has been tagged with the highly corrosive “anti-Malay” label for decades and the fact that Kit Siang is the first ever “Tan Sri” the party has produced since its founding, does carry some positive significance.

Even the response from the local Malay community has been varied. The well-intentioned would say this shows DAP respects the country’s constitutional monarchy and that the party is accepted by the royalty.

Thereafter, title conferment of DAP leaders has once again hit the streets, this time in Sabah. The party’s secretary-general Anthony Loke Siew Fook has put it forthright that the fate of the two new Datuks will be decided by the party’s central executive committee.

Their fate has yet to be known at this moment but in the party’s recent Negri Sembilan convention, Loke once again reminded his party comrades to stick to the principle that they can only accept honorific titles after their retirement.

Looking back, it was the highly respected late party chairman Karpal Singh who first set the “edict” at a time when DAP was still in opposition and conferment of honorific titles by the royal institution basically had nothing to do with the party, hence the “lofty” posture.

But this started to change when the party had the first taste of power in 2008. But Karpal Singh was unbending in his principle, hence anyone accepting royal conferment could hardly escape censure.

Can the rule be broken?

But put this whole thing in today’s context, Karpal could just be wrong, and Teng Chang Khim is a good example. Unlike others who have been adamant to add an honorific title to their names having just been appointed to cabinet posts, Teng was conferred a Datukship only after nearly three years in office.

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