: Should national diving diva Pandelela Rinong be conferred the honorific title of Datukship to honour her recent silver feat at the Rio Olympics?
This issue is being hotly debated in newspapers in Sarawak, apart from the the social media as the Bidayuh community, including its leaders have made an impassioned plea that the 23-year-old diving sensation be conferred a Datukship based on her sporting achievements.
The leaders have also shot down Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing's suggestion in a local newspaper here today, that Pandelela not be given a Datukship but rather, the government play a more important role to aid Sarawak's darling athlete in her training, including supporting her participation at international meets.
Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA) president Datuk Ik Pahon Joyik told Bernama
that he fully supported and prayed that Pandelela, a Bidayuh lass from Kampung Jugan in Bau District, be conferred the honorific title.
"If other sports figures like Datuk Lee Chong Wei (badminton) and Datuk Nicol David (squash) were conferred the Datukship, then why not Pandelela? She deserves it, too," said Pahon.
Meanwhile, a WhatsApp group calling itself, Bidayuh Community Movement, with more than 300 members comprising mostly Bidayuh professionals is also against Masing's call not to confer the honorific title for Pandelela.
Another prominent Bidayuh leader, who is also Bung Bratak Heritage Association (BBHA) president, Datuk Peter Minos said he strongly felt that Pandelela deserved the award, just like Chong Wei who won an Olympics silver medal for badminton and Nicol for being non-Olympic champion in squash.
"As I see it, she (Pandelela) fully deserves it and any reward in kind or more facilities being opened up for divers is a totally separate issue, altogether.
"She deserves it, regardless of her age and other factors. Even if I am not a Bidayuh, I would still express this view because what a Malaysian deserves, she deserves it, as well, without clouding the matter with all kinds of secondary or inconsequential considerations.
"When Pandelela won gold at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010 and bronze in London Olympics in 2012, some people commented that she was too young to be a Datuk.
"She has already brought great pride and honour to Sarawak, being the first woman to win an Olympic medal.
"So, I wonder at what age she deserves to be conferred that award?" he asked.
In the early hours of Wednesday, Pandelela and her diving partner, Cheong Jun Hoong won silver in the 10m synchronised diving in Brazil, a first for the Malaysian contingent in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.