June 3, 2006

The Title Chain

Posted in Malaysia at 9:46 pm by egalitaria

I've always been confused about the title-system in Malaysia. The rank of each official title is convoluted, and is almost like figuring out which 5-card series is the higher in a game of Cho-Tai-Ti (big Two). 

So we have, hopefully in descending order, or someone please correct me:

  • Tun
  • Tan Sri
  • Dato' Seri Utama (but this goes higher than Tan Sri if it is a State function, as opposed to a Federal function)
  • Dato' Seri 
  • Datuk/Dato'/Dato

And then you have the pre-titles.. The 

  • Yang Amat Berhormat (YAB) (The Very Respected)
  • Yang Berhormat (YB) (The Respected)
  • Yang Amat Berbahagia (YABhg) (The Very Happy)
  • Yang Berbahagia (YBhg) (The Happy)

Where YABs are reserved for the top notch VVIPs (Very Very Important Person), YBs are for the VIPs (Very Important Person). YBhgs are given to the spouses of YBs, while YABhgs are given to the spouses of YABs. 

From this amusing article here, I found that Heads of Government or State like the PM, MBs and Sultans, are called VVIPs and those who hold ministerial positions or lower are VIPs.

And the most entertaining is that (this is from a year 2000 article, mind you) a minister will get to be ferried in a Mercedes Benz 3000 series, while a deputy minister will be ferried about in a Mercedes Benz 2000 series.

So now we have a whole list of new Datuks, Tan Sris and a new Tun! A cheeky question was asked in a publication I read recently, how many Datuks, Tan Sris does Malaysia actually have? None of us commoners really know. Do they need to fulfill any requirement in order to be chosen? Contributions to society? Perhaps? 

And so begins another hierarchy of sorts in our society of titles and words.  

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