Sunday, June 13, 2010

My Name is Datuk Seri

I once was introduced to a person at a college cafe. I was just checking the college out at that time. Apparently his son is studying at the college, so I thought it would be a great way to know about the college.

And this incident happened quite recently - 2009 to be precise.

"Hi, I am Rahman," I said, while offering him my hand as a friendly gesture.

He smiled broadly and looked very much a friendly and jovial person that I am not.

"Hi Rahman, my name is Datuk Seri," he said, while shaking my hand. Firmly.

I was (slightly) taken aback. I thought I must have misheard him. For sure his parents would not have given that name to him. "Sorry, I didn't hear you. The noise in the cafe a bit too loud," I excused myself.

"Datuk Seri, just call me Datuk Seri. I am the (a Selangor district) branch chairman of (name of political party)," he said proudly.

He then gave me his card. Of course he has a Malaysian name, with a Datuk Seri's title before his name, but his name is not even mouthful for me to pronounce. So I am not sure why he would have to introduce himself in this manner.

And then we moved on topics of mutual interest. As I have said, he was not brash, to be honest; he was actually quite nice as a person.

That day I left the college with a cynical smile. I would have never believed what I have heard if I didn't hear it with my own ear. I have heard many stories about the datuks and datins showing tantrums when they were not accorded proper protocol and treatment.

"Excuse me, don't you know who I am? I am Datin so-and-so!" would be a common phrase used in such incidents. Or they would give you a Muka 14. I have just heard one story last weekend while attending an engagement party in Johor Bahru.

When I was a rookie engineer at Perak Hanjoong Simen in 1986, my Korean boss told me that in Korea, if one were to climb a hill and from the top, one can see a village full of people, and if you were to throw a stone at them, he was sure it would hit a person by the name of Kim.

When I first heard this, I was tickled pink. I thought it was funny.

I guess that story is true for Datuks and Tan Sris in Malaysia. But in this case, there's nothing funny about it.


  1. That is the feudalistic mindset which I dislike most. All of my friend who have title I just call them by their name and if they do not like it I just delete them from my list of friend.

    In Facebook I would not accept any persons as friend who put a title before his or her name.

    As for the issue of Datukship to it is not worth talking about it. What is so great about these title anyway.

    Take care.

  2. Thanks Pak Idrus for you thought. And I like your principle of not having them on you FB if the title is inserted before their name. I guess not all are like them and it would not be fair to generalize like what I have done. I would have a smirk on my face if I saw a business card with their dad's title after their name