KUALA LUMPUR: The recent arrests of several suspects involved in the use and awarding of fake “Datuk” titles is a positive step in curbing the growing abuse, says the Council of Federal Datuks of Malaysia (MDPM).
“MDPM applauds the police in enforcing the Offences Relating to Awards Act (Act 787) which is long overdue, ” said Council president Datuk Awalan Abdul Aziz.
He said at a press conference on Monday (March 8) that the enforcement by the police serves as a strong deterrent and an open warning to the many individuals and numerous other "Dato or Datuk" organisations.
Awalan said the arrests would also send a clear message that the use of fake titles will no longer be tolerated, with offenders subject to stiff fines including jail terms.
Under the Emblems and Names (Amendment) Act, an offender can be fined RM20,000 or jailed up to three years or both, while those soliciting for awards or trying to sell fake awards will face up to 20 years in jail under the Awards Act 2017.
Awalan said the emergence of such fake honorific awards as well as unrecognised titles is very alarming.
He said such rampant abuse needs to be addressed as it will result in ridicule and loathing in the eyes of the public if left unchecked.
“It does not augur well for our nation’s honours and for all the recipients who have been legally honoured for contributions to society and the nation, ” he said.
Meanwhile, Datuk Samson David Maman said the latest complaint MDPM received involving a 26-year-old “Datuk” in Klang who is believed to have scammed an overseas glove distributor of RM2.4mil for a non-existent contract.
He said those using fake or unrecognised titles cannot later claim that they are unaware of their dubious awards.
“The public must be made aware that ignorance is no excuse for the use of fake or unrecognised titles, ” he added.
He said the law against fake or unrecognised awards covers not only the use of titles but also official dress codes and car emblems.
On Saturday (Mar 7), police in Kelantan arrested two men for using a fake 'Datuk' title and impersonating members of the Kelantan royal family.
The first suspect is 48-year-old civil servant in Machang who was arrested on Feb 27 for using a fake “Datuk” title while the second suspect was detained in Tanah Merah on the same day.
Police also seized “Datukship” cards, charts of the Kelantan palace and state governments, as well as stamps from the two suspects, who are believed to have been active since last year.
On Thursday (Mar 4), police in Melaka arrested three suspects aged between 43 and 57 involved in issuing fake honorary titles to some 120 individuals.
The suspects included a husband and wife and were part of an unrecognised organisation known as the congregation of 'Datuks' (GDMM), which had been active for the past two years.
The GDMM was said to have held an investiture ceremony at a leading hotel here on behalf of ‘Sultan Kerajaan Indragiri’ in August 2020.
Besides the arrests, police also confiscated various paraphernalia relating to the fake datukships, including certificates.