Get­ting tough on the fak­ers

A new law will soon en­able the au­thor­i­ties to come down harder on those sell­ing and buy­ing fake datuk­ships. The Of­fences Re­lat­ing to Awards Act car­ries a max­i­mum penalty of 20 years in jail. The move comes even as more of such cases are ex­posed.

The Star Malaysia - - Front Page - By QISHIN TARIQ qishin.tariq@thes­tar.com.my

PE­TAL­ING JAYA: Those so­lic­it­ing for awards or try­ing to sell fake awards face up to 20 years in jail.

Per­sons re­ceiv­ing or “tak­ing ad­van­tage” of an un­recog­nised award could be jailed up to three years. These penal­ties are stip­u­lated in the Of­fences Re­lat­ing to the Awards Act 2016 passed by Par­lia­ment last Novem­ber.

Ac­cord­ing to the Fed­eral Gazette, it re­ceived Royal As­sent on Feb 3.

The Coun­cil of Fed­eral Datuks Malaysia said the new Act would serve as a de­ter­rent to curb bogus “Datuk­ships”.

“We sup­port the Act and look for­ward to the en­force­ment based on its pro­vi­sions,” said se­cre- tary- gen­eral Datuk Josephine Cle­ment, adding that the Coun­cil had dis­cussed is­sues on du­bi­ous and fake ti­tles with the Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s De­part­ment Datuk Seri Aza­lina Oth­man Said.

The Coun­cil, she said, had a na­tional data­base on “vet­ted” Datuks for pub­lic scru­tiny.

Cle­ment said the Fed­eral pro­to­col site (www.is­ti­a­dat.gov.my) car­ried a regis­ter of all awards at Fed­eral and state-lev­els.

“Per­haps an up­dated and ver­i­fied list can be dis­played soon for the pub­lic to ver­ify the sta­tus of sus­pi­cious ti­tle­hold­ers and re­port them to the au­thor­i­ties,” she said.

MCA Pub­lic Ser­vices and Com­plaints De­part­ment head Datuk Seri Michael Chong said one way to spot a fake Datuk was how one pre­sented his or her ti­tle.

“Some are re­luc­tant to print it on their busi­ness cards for fear that it could be used as ev­i­dence against them,” he added.

He urged the me­dia to be stricter when run­ning con­grat­u­la­tory an­nounce­ments and to en­sure that re­cip­i­ents named were le­git­i­mate ti­tle hold­ers.

“What peo­ple read in the news­pa­pers, they take as the truth.”

Chong said check­ing de­tails of the sash and em­blems used could re­veal if it in­volved fake awards.

He cau­tioned the pub­lic not to be duped into buy­ing fake ti­tles from al­leged “royal rep­re­sen­ta­tives”, adding that such ti­tles could only be con­ferred by the Yang di-Per­tuan Agong, state Rulers or the Yang diPer­tua Ne­gri.

In March, the Jo­hor gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced the Em­blems and Names (Pre­ven­tion of Im­proper Use) En­act­ment Jo­hor 2017, which crim­i­nalised the use of un­ac­cred­ited hon­orary awards, ti­tles and em­blems.

Se­lan­gor in­tro­duced a sim­i­lar En­act­ment last April, while Ke­lan­tan was the first to en­force its ver­sion in Septem­ber 2015.

An amend­ment to the Em­blems and Names (Pre­ven­tion of Im­proper Use) Act 1963 to pro­hibit re­ceipt of un­recog­nised ti­tles was pro­posed in Par­lia­ment in De­cem­ber 2013 and later with­drawn.

It came on the heels of a re­port in The Star on a Malac­can chief­tain who handed out scores of fake Datuk­ships and other ti­tles to peo­ple, charg­ing up to RM90,000 for each so-called ti­tle.

In 2015, a mem­ber of the Ke­lan­tan roy­alty and three oth­ers were held for al­legedly sell­ing Datuk­ships.

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