Tuesday, October 21, 2008



Absurdity is a virtue in Malaysia. How else can one describe Malacca’s decision to confer Datukship on Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan.

Years ago when I was at the Subang airport, a security guard beaconed a driver who had parked his Mercedes Benz right at the entrance of the main door to move on. Somehow the driver just refused to move and so the security guard walked to the driver and told him sternly to drive off. The driver protested saying that he was “tunggu Datuk” (waiting for Datuk). I chuckled pink when the guard told the driver “hello, Daud Kilau (a popular gelek singer) pun Datuk lah… jalanlah”. (Hello, even Daud Kilau is a Datuk.. just move on will ya..). The guard cared too hoots for Datuk’s.

Recently, a writer wrote in the NST, how at the waiting room of Institute Jantung Negara, when a nurse called out the patient “Datuk”, six Datuk’s actually got up !.

Malaysia, it would seem is teeming with Datuks and the running joke is if you were to throw a stone in Malacca, there is a very high possibility that the stone would strike a Datuk. I am confident sooner or later I will also obtain one (well maybe after 20 million other have got theirs).

So just what did Shah Rukh Khan do to deserve his Darjah Mulia Seri Melaka Datukship. According to Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, the decision to confer the title was suggested to the Yang di Pertua Negeri Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob by former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin. Apparently in 2001 the Bollywood heartthrob had shot a movie One Two Ka Four at A Famosa Resort, Alor Gajah Melaka. According to the Chief Minister that has resulted many people visiting Malacca.

Yesterday, was the investure ceremony but the actor did not attend the ceremony. Infact the great Khan was in Singapore for a Zee TV engagement. Apparently, Tun Daim is making arrangements to bring the actor here to receive his gong in a special ceremony. The great Khan must be really looking to the great day but before that he must once again look up in the map where the sleepy hollow is.

Now, if Shah Rukh Khan deserved the award, then other notables like Catherine Zeta Jones and Sean Connery who shot the movie Entrapment against the backdrop of Petronas Twin Tower, Chow Yuen Fatt in King and I shot around Ipoh and Jackie Chan who shot among other Police Story surely also deserves Datukship.

Datukships in Malaysia are too easily dished out. Add to the annual list which seems to grows each year, some Datuk’s are known to have obtained theirs from the Sulu rulers. Now, we have Datuks who are Yoga masters, to mini market owners to “besi buruk” businessmen added to the perenial list of politicians being rewarded more often than not for service to their political masters. Just read the congratulatory advertisement which appear in the neswspapers after each investure ceremonies and you would have an idea what their day job is. Mention also must be made of many lawyers who hardly have any time for service to the BAR but are Datuks by virtue of their public service in the east coast.

I believe it is high time that members of the public should also be allowed to nominate Malaysians who have distinguished themselves in the service for the people for consideration for such awards