Press Statement
Datuk titles are for those with exceptional contributions to society, not for serving ministers or politicians
15 October 2018

Last Friday, in conjunction with the Yang diPertua Negeri of Malacca’s birthday, five cabinet ministers were among those awarded the Darjah Gemilang Seri Melaka (DGSM) which carries the title of “Datuk Seri”.

Honorary titles are something that should not simply be given to any politician, but must only be awarded after a strenuous vetting process and only to those who have unquestionably contributed to society through exceptional service beyond their ordinary call of duty.

Ministers who are currently still in office as well as other elected representatives generally should not receive such awards, especially solely by virtue of their office.

They are given mandate by the people to administer and execute their duties for the betterment of society.

Simply put, it is their job to contribute to society by virtue of their office, and that cannot be construed in any stretch as something that goes beyond their call of duty.

The title awarded to these ministers are even more questionable when we take into account that they have only been in office for roughly five months, too brief a period for anyone to say that any policy or action taken has brought significant improvement or contribution to society. In fact, nothing so far can be noted as something that exceeds what is required of them.

These ministers should have done the right thing and courteously declined to accept the titles.

If politicians or ministers are continuously awarded with titles by virtue of their position, this would demean the significance of the honorary title, rendering it meaningless.

The dated practice of awarding politicians or ministers honorary titles, long practiced under BN rule, should be done away with. If they desire to have one, they must prove their worth, just like everyone else.

Released by:
Zaid Malek
Lawyers For Liberty