Malaysian obsession for titles, world’s highest holders!

Change mindset of obsession for titles

I REFER to the letter “Just one too many Datuks around” (The Star, Dec 6 :see beloww) by Pola Singh.

It is utterly amusing that Malaysians are so obsessed with titles, especially the politicians and business community.

It is said Malaysia has one of the world’s highest rates of royal title holders estimated to run into tens of thousands.

Our former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad had warned about title glut. When you have too many Datuks then the value of the title will drop.

“If you produce a million Ferrari cars. Nobody will care about buying a Ferrari,” Dr Mahathir had said.

In Britain, which has double the population of Malaysia, fewer than 100 will be knighted by the Queen every year.

In comparision about 300-400 new Datuk titles are conferred in Malaysia.

Currently, there are 15 different avenues where a person can be conferred a Datukship within Malaysia – from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the 14 states including the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.

I have a few friends who have done nothing for the rakyat yet have been bestowed with “Datuk” and‘Tan Sri” titles.

It is embarrassing how one could carry these titles without any contributions to society or with personal achievements to show.

This group is highly egocentric and self-serving. Great personalities do not fall for this kind of cheap publicity.

US president Barack Obama, former South Africa President Nelson Mandela, newly crowned Indonesian President Jokowi, Chinese President Xie Jinping do not carry any titles.

Big achievers like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates hardly have any titles to their name; yet have contributed immensely to mankind.

Malaysians must change the mindset of title obsession and instead contribute positively to our beloved nation, participate in NGO activities and do something good for fellow human beings who are living hand to mouth.

To some, titles purportedly help slice through red tape and gain easy access to those in power.

However, when these Datuks or Tan Sris leave Malaysian shores, often they don’t get any recognition.

I wish to relate an incident during an international function in a foreign country attended by the host country’s Prime Minister.

This particular Tan Sri was trying to push his weight to get a front seat through his assistants but was refused by security officials.

He was sent to the back of the hall. In Malaysia it could have been a different story.

Malaysians must understand that recognition and reputation comes with your noble work for community, contribution to the society, high moral standards, and integrity.

We must stop this obsession of seeking titles.

Source: FR Subang Jaya The Star/Asia News Network

Just one too many Datuks around

THERE is a joke going around that “if you throw a stone into a VIP crowd in the country, not only will it hit a Datuk but it will rebound off him and hit another Datuk”. And if you were to do the same to an ordinary group of Malaysians, then at least half of those hit will be Datuks!

Many believe that there are just too many Datuks around. I agree.

On a number of occasions, I have been put in a rather embarrassing situation when I entered a room and called out to my ex-classmate who is a Datuk. Unfortunately, the one I was referring to was not paying attention but I got cold hard stares from two other Datuks I was not familiar with.

On another occasion in a room full of VVIPs, I said something unpleasant (with a particular Datuk in mind) but I got immediate response from two other Datuks thinking that I was referring to them. How can we enlighten Datuks that there are also others in the room with the same title and that they cannot infer that they are the only ones with the title?

I have asked around whether I could address a Datuk using his or her maiden name? I have been told politely time and again that this is indeed a sensitive issue; the majority of the Datuks would feel slighted if we do not address them by their title. It means a lot to them. It makes them feel important.

And please don’t forget the Datins. They too want their share of the limelight. The look on their faces tells all if you were to address them by their name.

I know of a secretary who was severely reprimanded by her boss when she printed his new calling card with the new title “Tan Sri”.

Her superior was angry that she left out his previous Datuk title in the card. Since the Tan Sri title is a higher award, she assumed that the Datuk title need not be used anymore.

Then there are those Datuks who have recently been conferred “Tan Sri” titles and strongly resent if one were to absent-mindedly call them “Datuk”.

Yes, there are also the humble ones who tell you that they prefer to be called by their names but they are a minority.

Perhaps the Association of Datuks can take the lead and persuade its members to encourage the public to refer them by their name and not their title. This will be a good start.

But until then, please do not take any chances. If in doubt, address the VVIPs as Tan Sri first. And give the Datins and Puan Sris the due respect please.

By POLA SINGH Kuala Lumpur The Star/Asia News Network Dec 6, 201

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