PETALING JAYA - Those soliciting for awards or trying to sell fake awards face up to 20 years in jail.
Persons receiving or "taking advantage" of an unrecognised award could be jailed up to three years. These penalties are stipulated in the Offences Relating to the Awards Act 2016 passed by Parliament last November.
According to the Federal Gazette, it received Royal Assent on Feb 3.
The Council of Federal Datuks Malaysia said the new Act would serve as a deterrent to curb bogus "Datukships".
"We support the Act and look forward to the enforcement based on its provisions," said secretary-general Datuk Josephine Clement, adding that the Council had discussed issues on dubious and fake titles with the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.
The Council, she said, had a national database on "vetted" Datuks for public scrutiny.
Clement said the Federal protocol site (www.istiadat.gov.my) carried a register of all awards at Federal and state-levels.
"Perhaps an updated and verified list can be displayed soon for the public to verify the status of suspicious titleholders and report them to the authorities," she said.
MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong said one way to spot a fake Datuk was how one presented his or her title.
"Some are reluctant to print it on their business cards for fear that it could be used as evidence against them," he added.
He urged the media to be stricter when running congratulatory announcements and to ensure that recipients named were legitimate title holders.
"What people read in the newspapers, they take as the truth."
Chong said checking details of the sash and emblems used could reveal if it involved fake awards.
He cautioned the public not to be duped into buying fake titles from alleged "royal representatives", adding that such titles could only be conferred by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, state Rulers or the Yang diPertua Negri.
In March, the Johor government introduced the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Enactment Johor 2017, which criminalised the use of unaccredited honorary awards, titles and emblems.
Selangor introduced a similar Enactment last April, while Kelantan was the first to enforce its version in September 2015.
An amendment to the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1963 to prohibit receipt of unrecognised titles was proposed in Parliament in December 2013 and later withdrawn.
It came on the heels of a report in The Star on a Malaccan chieftain who handed out scores of fake Datukships and other titles to people, charging up to RM90,000 (S$28,400) for each so-called title.
In 2015, a member of the Kelantan royalty and three others were held for allegedly selling Datukships.