MALACCA: Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan has accepted the Darjah Mulia Seri Melaka (DMSM) award from Yang diPertua Negri (or governor) Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob, which carries the title of Datuk.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said that the Indian superstar would be in Malacca next month to receive the award from Tun Khalil.
“Shah Rukh Khan has agreed to accept it and this was conveyed to the Governor’s Office.
“He will try to make it in November but the date of the ceremony has yet to be fixed,” he told reporters after the launch of the RM63mil Menara TM at MITC in Ayer Keroh on Tuesday.
The conferment of the title on the Bollywood heartthrob stirred up a controversy. Some commented that the actor did not deserve the award as he probably did not even know where Malacca is situated, while others said such awards should be given to local artistes.
The Malaysian Artistes Association (Karyawan) however backed the conferment, saying it had no problem with it as long as similar or higher awards were conferred to equally deserving local artistes.
Karyawan said it was the prerogative of the state Ruler to confer awards on intended candidates, but added that it would have been better if associations were given the opportunity to recommend some names for such awards.
Mohd Ali reiterated that arrangements for the actor’s trip here is being made through former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin, who was the one who mooted the idea.
He added the ceremony is not merely being held for the actor but also for those who were unable to receive their awards during Mohd Khalil’s 70th birthday on Oct 11.
The ceremony will also be held to confer the award on Honda Motors chief executive officer Tokeo Fukui who was unable to attend earlier, he said.
Mohd Ali was asked whether the state had any intention of retracting the award to the actor following protests from several quarters, as well as the issue being raised in Parliament on Monday by Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh (BN-Kalabakan).
“No there is no intention of retracting the award. How can you give something to a person and later take it back?” he said.
He also defended the state’s decision to confer Datukship on the actor, saying Shah Rukh Khan had helped promote Malacca to an international audinece through the film One 2 Ka 4 and the song Don on one of his CDs.
“If the state wanted to get this sort of publicity on CNN, it would have had to pay millions,” he said, adding the move to confer the award on the actor might prompt him to shoot more films here.
He also noted that local artistes were also confered awards this year, including singer Goh Eng Boon (more popularly known as Andre Goh), comedian Jantan Osman (also known as Ali Mamak) and 1960s singer Mariam Ahmad, who received the Darjah Seri Melaka (DSM) award, one which does not carry any title.
Mohd Ali added that the state would consider conferring awards on other local artistes.
“If there are those who feel that there are other artistes who were left out, they can submit their names to the state for future consideration,” he said.