KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders should hold themselves to a higher standard by making sure any state award carrying honorary titles they accept is based on merit, the media and communications adviser to the Prime Minister's Office said.
Datuk A. Kadir Jasin reminded the leaders that they rose to power in a “New Malaysia” and should therefore strive to distinguish themselves from those in the former Barisan Nasional government they replaced.
"I agree with DAP's stance of discouraging its leaders from taking on titles, and instead focus on fulfilling the rakyat's trust," he said in his latest blog entry, wading into the “Datukship” controversy following a public chiding expressed by DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng Sunday against his party members who recently accepted state awards.
The veteran journalist said if PH leaders considered themselves “better than BN leaders”, they should make more effort to prove it to the public who would assess them based on their dedication and service.
He added that accepting awards without a service record would give the impression that they are no different from the former BN ministers whom he described as “obsessed with titles, positions and wealth”.
“The question is, were they given the titles because of their position or because of their great deeds to society, state and country?
“If they were awarded for their services, what are those services since becoming ministers? Forgive me for saying so but it remains unclear as to what they have done to merit such titles," he said.
Kadir acknowledged that there are PH leaders with a track record of public service while they were in the Opposition, but noted that they were in the minority.
“Social media interactions have clearly shown that the majority of the rakyat disagree and even expressed disgust at the awarding of the titles.
“We are rearranging our priorities and political behaviour. Our movements are being watched by all parties,” he said.
Kadir also noted that PH leaders may come under criticism from supporters but urged them to stick to their principles.
“To me it is not a question of protest against the supremacy of the Malay Rulers or anything, but an issue of policy. In fact all PH parties should emphasise service to the rakyat and form a more egalitarian environment, and not extend the practices of feudalism, class, and caste.
“I hope in the New Malaysia we can rectify the honour and nobility of the nation's institutions so that each of them will be in the places allotted to them by the Constitution. Remember that we do not stand upon the Constitution but are instead bound by it,” he said.
Last Saturday, several ministers and state assemblymen received the Darjah Mulia Seri Melaka carrying the 'Datuk' title in conjunction with Governor of Melaka Tun Dr Mohd Khalil Yaakob’s 80th birthday celebration.