Malaysia will have a
mind-boggling number of 3,000 new Datuks from state honours alone this year
on the basis of the conferment of 84 new Datuks by Malacca state with a
population of some 700,000 people
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Monday): Malaysia will have a mind-boggling number of 3,000 new Datuks from state honours alone this year on the basis of the conferment of 84 new Datuks by the Malacca state with a population of some 700,000 people.
Until recently, Sabah was the butt of jokes, with the Sabah State Assembly in 2001 being told of the joke going around in the peninsula that “if you throw a stone into a crowd in Sabah, not only will it hit a datuk but it will ricochet off him and hit another datuk”.
The Sabah disease has now spread across the South China Sea, and the joke about a stone richochetting from a Datuk hitting another Datuk will be told with glee by Sabahans about peninsular Malaysia, probably with the variation that the stone would also hit a datuk in a second richochet.
Two years ago, the Federal Government had expressed concern about the huge number of state awards given out each year, to the extent of devaluing the public standing of state datukshops. But such concerns have all come to nought, and the situation is even worse than before.
The conferment of 84 new Datuks by the Malacca State government is clearly one outcome of the recent UMNO General Assembly, highlighting not only the problem of money politics but also “Datuk politics” in UMNO party elections.
Although Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi promised a clean, incorruptible, accountable, transparent and trustworthy government when he became Prime Minister, the conferment of 84 Datuks by the Malacca State Government is the latest incident highlighting that there is something very wrong with the system of governance in the country, whether at the national or state level, which Abdullah has not been able to bring under check or control – and which does not augur well for the successful and effective translation of Abdullah’s pledges of good governance from rhetorics to reality.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman