KUALA LUMPUR: Recent advertisements in the Chinese press to congratulate those receiving datukships from Datuk Undang Luak Johol in Negri Sembilan have created a debate over the awards.
In the advertisements, the businessmen were congratulated for getting the Darjah Dato’ Setia Undang Johol (DSUJ) during the 80th birthday of Undang Luak Johol Datuk Ali Abdul on Jan 14.
However, sources alleged that the medals awarded during the ceremony contravened the laws of the Constitution of Negri Sembilan 1959, which state that only the Yang di-Pertuan Besar has the right to confer awards.
On Tuesday, a Chinese newspaper published four full-page congratulatory advertisements, which carried photographs of the recipients.
“This is the first time an undang (a ruling chief) has given out awards,” said a reliable source, adding that the action contravened Article 26 of the state constitution.
The source said state awards are given out after consultations in Dewan Keadilan dan Undang (The Council of the Yang di-Pertuan Besar and the Ruling Chiefs) meetings.
However, the council did not discuss Datuk Ali’s conferment of awards, added the source.
The Yang di-Pertuan Besar, the ruling chiefs, the Tengku Besar of Sri Menanti, the Datuk Shahbandar Sungei Ujong and other appointed members sit in the council.
There are four undangs in Negri Sembilan – from Sungei Ujong, Jelebu, Johol and Rembau.
The source added that the council would meet and state legal adviser Hinshawati Shariff would give her views on the Johol datukships.
In December, the validity of datukships conferred by “foreign sultans” was highlighted by the press after it was reported that 26 Malaysians had received their titles from the so-called royal house of Solo in Indonesia.
Two years ago, the press also highlighted the legality of datukships conferred on 23 Malaysians by the sultan of Mindanao but the Philippines Government later clarified that there was no sultan in Mindanao.
So far, 71 Malaysians including businessmen, academicians, lawyers, pol-iticians, doctors and unionists have been conferred datukship by the sultan of Mindanao.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Rais Yatim had said there was no status for the conferment by the sultan of Mindanao because it is not a sovereign state.