Increased penalties for fake titles

KUALA LUMPUR: The Emblems and Names (Amendment) Act 2016 and Awards Act 2017 to curb the selling of awards and titles took effect yesterday.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said both laws could curb the abuse of awards and titles bestowed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Rulers and Yang di-Pertua Negeri.

“The amendments to the Acts reflects the government’s commitment to preserve the royal institution from being tarnished by unscrupulous people.

“With the amendments, the government has increased the penalties and jail term to reflect the seriousness of the offences and as a deterrent to the public,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.

Among others, the Awards Act states that it is an offence for
a person to seek or accept a bribe for an unrecognised award, which carries a prison sentence of up
to 20 years, while anyone who falsely claims to be conferred a title by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong can be jailed up to three years.

The Emblems and Names (Amendment) Act imposes a fine of RM20,000 or imprisonment not exceeding three years or both to the offender, as compared to a fine of RM1,000 prior to the amendment.

This is to reflect the seriousness of the offence of improper use of emblems, names and pictorial representations.

Azalina expressed hope that the Acts would also tackle the problem of fraud involving the public.

She advised the public to protect themselves from scams by checking the list of federal and state awards at www.istiadat.gov.my, which is the federal protocol website.

The bills were approved in
Dewan Rakyat on Nov 23 last year and by the Dewan Negara
on Dec 20.

It had been reported that unscrupulous people had solicited and accepted bribes in exchange for titles conferred.

In April, a Tan Sri was detained after Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar spilled the beans on him.

The businessman allegedly offered a RM2 million bribe to the sultan for the royal to recommend a person’s name for a “Tan Sri” title.

It is learnt that the Tan Sri had charged up to RM5 million selling the “Tan Sri” title to rich individuals desperate for honorific titles, which are often regarded as a passport to a higher social standing.

He had also touted the “Datuk Seri” title for RM2 million and the “Datuk” title for RM1 million.