If you want titles, earn them, lawyers group tells politicians

Ministers Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof (second right), Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (left), Dzulkefly Ahmad (right) and Rina Mohd Harun (second left) after the award of the Darjah Gemilang Seri Melaka last week. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Lawyers group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today called for an end to the practice of awarding politicians or ministers with honorary titles by virtue of their position.

In a statement, it said honorary titles should not simply be handed out, but rather awarded after a strenuous vetting process to those who had unquestionably contributed to society through “exceptional service beyond their 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 the 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,” said LFL coordinator Zaid Malek.

He was referring to an event last Friday at which five ministers, among others, were awarded the Darjah Gemilang Seri Melaka which carries the title of “Datuk Seri”.

He said the award of this title to the ministers was even more questionable considering that they had only been in office for about five months.

“(This is) too brief a period for anyone to say that any policy or action taken has brought significant improvement or contribution to society,” he added.

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

Zaid said if politicians or ministers were continuously awarded titles by virtue of their position, it would render the designations meaningless.

“If they desire to have one, they must prove their worth just like everyone else.”