I don’t deserve Datuk title just yet, says Leiking

International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking.

KOTA KINABALU: International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking believes he has not done enough yet to deserve his “Datukship” title.

The Warisan deputy president said he had extended his opinion of his award to Sabah governor Juhar Mahiruddin and Chief Minister Shafie Apdal when he received news of the recognition.

He said he accepted the title out of respect for the head of state and will do his best to “ensure the state made the right decision”.

“I honour what they have bestowed upon me. I personally think it is too early for me to get the award and I am aware of people asking why I didn’t reject it.

“You must try to earn the trust if you have not earned it before. I feel there are a lot more things I should have done before I got it but I will make sure it is not wasted on me,” Leiking told reporters here today.

The Penampang MP was among a host of state figures awarded the Panglima Gemilang Darjah Kinabalu (PGDK), which carries the title Datuk in conjunction with the head of state’s 65th birthday.

A total of 65 Datukships were conferred but this has not gone down well with certain quarters in Sabah, with many saying the leaders have not done much in their capacity in the new government to deserve such awards.

Recently, state Health and People’s Well-being Minister and Sabah DAP chief Stephen Wong had also come under fire for accepting the award as it went against his party’s practice of not receiving any award while still being in office.

DAP has issued a stern reminder for its serving representatives in the government not to accept such awards.

Meanwhile, Leiking declined to answer when asked if he agreed with the notion that it was too soon to award the current leaders in the new government with state titles.

“I can only speak for myself and not the rest. I think there are two schools of thought on this matter. Some people think they may deserve it.

“I personally think I don’t deserve it as yet but I will continue my work,” he said.

He said he made it a point to inform event organisers to omit the word “Datuk” from backdrops or in salutations during speeches.

Places for indigenous people on MA63 committees

On another note, Leiking agreed that indigenous people from Sabah and Sarawak be made members of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 panels.

“This is because the indigenous stakeholders are important and not political parties like Warisan or whatever.

“They have more of a stake than us. They represent the community, the business people, the people in academia and we should get them more involved as they will last longer than politicians … who knows, next election I may even lose?”

Sabah-based indigenous people’s group Himpunan Asasi Rakyat Untuk Sabah (Harus) recently called on de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong to include its representatives as well as civil society organisations in various committees to review and implement the MA63.

Its chairman, Andrew Atama Ambrose, said it was important for the indigenous people of both Sabah and Sarawak to participate in the committees as MA63 has a direct impact on their culture and rights.