Friday, November 21, 2003

Pak Lah and Protocol

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz said her suggestion that the media and the people should stop addressing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi by his pet name "Pak Lah" has been misunderstood.

Malay Mail reported that Many of the people interviewed by the newspaper said there was absolutely nothing wrong in calling the Prime Minister "Pak Lah" as Malaysians see it as a term of endearment that reflects the Prime Minister's place in the hearts of his people.

Rafidah, however, said closeness or endearment has its place because when it involved the country's No 1 leader, protocol must be taken into consideration.

There is totally nothing wrong calling our Prime Minister, Pak Lah. Pak is the shorter and more friendly term of Bapa (or Bapak), meaning father or someone elder, wiser and respectable. We used to call our uncle or our elders, Pak Mat, Pak Ali, Pak Ngah or Pak Long.

No one could deny the fact that Pak Lah is well respected. By calling him Pak Lah does not reduce the respect the people have for him or in any way lower his status as the country’s number leader. A man like our Prime Minister, does not need long titles (with due respect to the title awarding parties) to boost his dignity, respect and honour. His actions shine better.

Protocol is the sequence of addressing, seating arrangements and how one shows his or her respect. Name alone doesn’t mean much in this aspect. It is the actual act of respecting that counts. The PM’s wife when interviewed by media addressed herself as Kak Endon instead of Datin Seri or Datin.

Our beloved PM and his wife, who always have the people at their hearts, have set a very humble and noble example. We should all change our name seeking culture and follow what is more acceptable by the general public.

Only individuals who crave for fame, titles and status are particular about how they should be address. These are the people who make complaints when they are not uttered the word Datuk. These are the people who corrected their friends, colleagues and relatives when their titles are not mentioned. These are the people who are willing to pay for the titles. Since they have paid for it, they want others to know and to mention it, to make their money worth. Here goes again the stories of commercial datuks.

Kak, Rafidah, thank you. We would prefer to call our PM Pak Lah, unless he personally says no, which we doubt he would.

With a few Tan Sri Dato’ Seri or Datuk Seri Panglima in the same function, how much time each speaker spent just to address their title. Take for example, calling Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Lajim Haji Okin is equivalent to address Pak Lah 7 times!!!

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