KUALA LUMPUR, March 1 — The Council of Datuk Dato’ Malaysia (MDDM) has presented suggested amendments to several clauses in the Awards Act 2017 to the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) to strengthen the act’s enforcement in curbing the misuse of awards and titles.

Its president, Datuk Awalan Abdul Aziz said the suggestions include fixing police powers to arrest and open investigation papers against individuals committing such abuses before they are charged as currently the Act is unclear about whether police can make arrests if an offence is committed under the Act.

“Also, whether the Act is applicable at the state level as not all states have enactments relating to it, so we suggest that certain clauses be amended to allow enforcement at state levels for awards conferred by those states,” he told reporters after visiting the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) today.

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He said that misusing awards and titles was a serious issue as the council has received a lot of reports from the public about scams by people using fake titles.

Based on the council’s records, almost 200 individuals have been identified as being involved in fake title scams, which showed how important it was to have the Act amended to preserve the reputation of real recipients of titles and the institutions conferring them, he added.

Awalan also expressed hope that his visit to Bernama today would help the council to boost public awareness about the use of legitimate awards and titles.

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“Public perception is that if someone has a Datukship, they are credible people, but not all of them have legitimate titles.

“This is what we want the public to know and if possible, any agency, including Bernama, should verify and determine the authenticity of a title before including it in news,” he said.

Awalan and his deputy president Datuk Mohammad Ashfar Mohamad Ali, secretary-general Datuk Samson David Maman and several council members visited Bernama Radio, Bernama TV and the Digital Media Desk to look at how the various divisions operated.

They were also given a briefing by Bernama chief executive officer Nur-ul Afida Kamaludin about its history and role as a news agency and had a discussion with Bernama chairman Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai and senior management about the types of potential partnerships between both parties.

Bernama editor-in-chief Arul Rajoo Durar Raj was also present during the visit. — Bernama