Being An Encik In The Land Of A Million Datuks

Posted on April 29, 2007

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People have often asked me how it feels like to be an Encik in the land of a million Datuks. I tell them, with no hint of arrogance, that it hasn’t always been easy. Whenever I’m abroad attending important conferences, foreign men and women of great stature and position come up to me and ask what I’ve achieved to be bestowed the grand title of ‘Encik’, when my fellow Malaysians have to contend with their common Tan Sris and Datuks. I try to be humble and just say I’ve been luckier than most.

I feel honored when, in the great tradition of Malaysian speeches, the speaker takes 15 minutes to address everyone’s honorifics, from “Tun Tun, Toh Puan Toh Puan, Tan Sri Tan Sri, Puan Sri Puan Sri, Datuk Seri Datuk Seri, Datin Seri Datin Seri” and the like, I am always mentioned at the very end. Save the best for last, I say. Unlike the Datuk Padukas who are forced to prostrate to rotting old men in glittering golden costumes to get their titles, my grand ‘Encik’ is bestowed upon me at birth, by no greater a Being than God Himself. Forgive me for being smug, but I’m sure you will agree that my pride is justified.

Bearing this title comes at a price. The beautiful stewardesses at Malaysia Airlines will ask for the common Datuk’s name and treat them ever so nicely, but they’re too intimidated by my honorific to even offer coffee or tea. Unlike the Tan Sris who are driven by their chauffeurs, I have driven my own car for as long as I can remember. No driver would want to carry the responsibility of driving the one and only Encik, when they can drive the millions of Datuks of Malaysia. Many Malaysians aspire to be Datuks and Tan Sris and join their cohorts, who now make up the majority of this country. I don’t blame them. Being an Encik brings with it great personal sacrifice.

Posted in: Society