When will the few genuine Datuks defend their dignity, protect the sanctity of the ‘Datuk’ award and fight off the ‘Latuks’ of society?
The ‘Cash-for-Datuks’ fiasco has been brewing for decades, but last week’s shooting in Penang has propelled the debate into overdrive, on social media.
Last Thursday, businessman Ong Teik Kwong was shot dead in his car, near the Penang bridge. His alleged murderer, who was seated in the passenger seat, had drawn a revolver and shot Ong in the neck.
The police confirmed that Ong was the head of ‘Gang 24′ and had been under police surveillance. ‘Gang 24′, and 13 other secret societies, ran protection rackets.
On being conferred his Datukship, Ong’s peers paid RM150,000 for 50 full page adverts in the local Chinese paper to congratulate him.
It is sad that the vetting system for these awards had failed. The age of the recipient is a dead give-away.
Thugs like Ong sully the few genuine Datuks, tarnish the songkok which they wear for the investiture ceremony and render meaningless the award system. In other words, having criminals as Datuks cheapens the award.
Worse still, police checks on the criminal records of nominees for the Datukship had also failed. What sort of message is being passed to the rakyat when a known criminal prides himself on being called a Datuk?
Were the character checks conducted by the police less than thorough? Was Ong vetted? Indeed, are any of the ‘Datuks-duit’ vetted?
Ong’s notorious past was no secret.
Ordinary Malaysians try to be model citizens. When they read reports of Ong’s death in the local dailies, they become enraged because of his award and the fact that the police knew about his brutal and murderous past.
Last Thursday, the alleged murderer, having shot Ong, took aim at a person in the back seat of the car, but despite being shot, this man escaped, and fled. Two innocent bystanders were also killed, whilst five more were injured by a volley of stray bullets.
Initially, some people felt sorrow for Ong, who had died a brutal death. He was only 32. Their sadness was replaced with rage on discovering that the alleged murderer was the businessman’s own bodyguard.
A young man who needs an armed bodyguard cannot be of unblemished character.
Ong had prided himself at being called ‘Datuk M’ or ‘Datuk Muda’, because he was one of the youngest men to have become a Datuk.
Gone are the days when the nominee for a Datukship had to be an upright citizen, without so much as a parking ticket issued to him.
The nominee would have dedicated his whole life to public service, like retired judges or ageing civil servants. Perhaps, in the private sector, the nominee’s life’s work might have been to help less fortunate Malaysians.
If the police and the royal households want to continue to be respected, they must pull their fingers out, and do something to clean up their acts. Tensions are simmering, and the rakyat are beginning to think that crime does pay.
The youth are unhappy, whilst the old hark back to yesteryear, when money did not corrupt morals. Today’s irresponsible leaders do not care for the environment. They rape the countryside of its riches to fuel their greed.
Nothing fills the rakyat with more contempt than knowing that a Datuk who lived amongst them is a criminal gang leader, an alleged murderer and someone who had been under police surveillance.
It is alleged that a sycophantic junior MAS employee, who also runs his own cargo firm at London’s Heathrow Airport, was conferred a Datukship, because he is skilled at paying homage to one particular VVIP, who often flies from Heathrow. The Latuk turns up to service the VVIP, even when he is off-duty, or on holiday.
A Datuk who has a whiff of scandal about him should be stripped of his title.
A complete list of newly-minted Datuks from each state should be made available on the net. Their ages should also be listed, and their good deeds recorded.
Do something, before more innocent victims of errant Datuks are killed.
On the other hand, it is time the Datukships are scrapped. The abuse of power makes a mockery of the honorific. The rakyat are not blind.
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO).