I REFER to Johan Jaaffar's article "What's in the name" (NST, Oct 13).
In a segment of comic strip Hagar The Horrible, Hagar says to his buddy Lucky Eddie: "I get no respect! Everywhere I go, people call me barbarian." Lucky Eddie asks: "What do you want them to call you?" Hagar replies: "MR barbarian would be nice!"
Even a barbarian sees the importance of what's in the name, and expects people to address him correctly.
A name and one's title signify not only one's identity, but more importantly, shows one's social standing in society. A person with the title Tan Sri, Datuk Seri and Datuk expects nothing less than the observance of protocol.
You may have been his childhood friend, but he will feel offended if you call him by his name in the presence of others.
If you want to continue to be on the guest list, make sure you address his wife as Puan Sri, Datin Sri or Datin. Your Tan Sri friend my be forgiving, but not his wife.
Ironically, when a person has been conferred the title Tan Sri, Datuk Seri and Datuk, he loses his name given by his father.
For most people, it doesn't matter if their names are not mentioned. But they will be offended if you don't address them as Tan Sri, Datuk Seri and Datuk.
So, what is in the name, asked Johan. It means a lot to many people. Some will buy the title while others print the title on business cards.
I remember meeting my ex-boss many years ago. I greeted him by saying: "How are you Mr Ali?" He was silent. I then said, "Oh, I forgot, how are you Dr Ali?", to which he responded smilingly: "That sounds better."
You see, he had completed his PhD from an American university.
In the film The American President, starring Michael Douglas and Martin Sheen, Douglas told Sheen to address him by his name as they were buddies, to which Sheen answered: "Yes, Mr President."
Hassan Talib, Gombak, Selangor | email@example.com New Straits Times Opinion 24 October 2012