Perhaps it's a remnant of British colonialism. Or maybe even something much older to begin with - a throwback to ancient Malay feudalism mixed with complex Indian social hierachy perhaps?
Who knows the exact reasons behind them all - but I find a number of my slavish countrymen far too enamoured with social rank and titles! Just whisper the prefix Datuk ( our national equivalent of a Sir though they act far from knightly ) to this sycophantic lot and you'd have dozens of them literally falling to their knees ready to kowtow and obey their every bidding.
Nurse #1 : OMG. He's a datuk.
Nurse #2 : Oh yes, we must attend to their smallest whim.
Nurse #1 : And be ready to offer our bread, our wages and our first-born to them in slave-like homage.
Old-style feudalism at work?
Bow to me dammit! I am a Duke! You are my pawns!
And please don't forget to address them properly if not to incur their utmost displeasure. Whether it's a Datuk, a Professor or a Doctor. Such a social solecism in more liberal republics would probably earn an unconcerned shrug but over here, the offender would probably receive hysterical dramatics worthy of the indignant Queen of Hearts.
If not be on the receiving end of an immediate imperious order of Off with Her Head! After all, who hasn't heard this spoken in a huffy tone at least once?
I am not a Mr.
I am a Doctor.
No doubt such correct social formality should be de rigueur in frou frou state ceremonies ( I blame it on the protocol-obsessed bureaucrats! ) but in an informal pot-luck gathering amongst friends? Firmly insisting on being called by an honorific simply smacks of ill breeding - if not shockingly low self esteem!
Maybe I have been largely influenced by my shockingly liberal ( and vaguely socialist ) parentage since very little of all this impresses me. Always believed that receiving such an honorary title for service to the community should confer humility and a touch of noblesse oblige rather than a dash of snotty arrogance. All men are created equal after all - and tacking a Lordship ( or whatever prefix ) to the name doesn't ennoble them in the least.
Sometimes quite the reverse actually.
Despite that fact, many are quite content to revel in their store-bought chivalry ( note the shocking proliferation of such seemingly distinguised titles in our country ). Puffed up in conceit, they find reasons to drop their titles in everything possible. Reason enough that it's starting to be quite common to see certain peculiar additions on wedding cards.
Dr Lassie Love-a-lot
MBBS ( Narnia ), PhD Lovin ( Telmarine )
Daughter of Datuk Lucky Love-a-lot PRK AMD JXN
Making it resemble her curriculum vitae rather than an invitation to a wedding. Thanks for telling me where she got her multiple degrees. So good to know for matrimonial purposes. No doubt I can purchase a worthy bride or two over there as well.
And I haven't even mentioned the string of degrees and titles listed behind the groom's. A merger of CVs perhaps?