Why the brickbats over Michelle's 'Tan Sri' title?

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This year’s honours list for the Agong’s birthday caught a lot of people by surprise, unlike previous investitures when the customary ministers and civil servants would fill the list. Many of them seem to have a penchant for repeat performances practically every year. One would think the recipient had done an extraordinary job in the execution of their duties. Moreover, some have been lucky enough to receive a honorary title even before embarking on any distinguished career.


One recent surprise recipient was Chua Tee Yong, the young son of MCA president Chua Soi Lek. Hardly knocking 30, he was catapulted to contest his father’s seat of Labis when the latter resigned his minister and parliamentary posts over his sordid porno episode.

In quick time, his father struck a bargain with Najib Abdul Razak and the young protege was duly appointed a deputy minister post. And in double quick time the young upstart was given a datukship from Malacca, maybe perhaps for his boyish smile.

But the last week was really a surprise. In one stroke of his pen, or was the Agong advised by Putrajaya, a famed kung fu exponent actress and two distinguished gentlemen were awarded Tan Sri and Datuk titles.

But what took many by surprise was the rain of villification accorded to the Chinese kung fu exponent, Michelle Yeoh, over her Tan Sri award. The remarks directed at her were purely vitriolic and full of hatred. The other two, Zang Toi and Jimmy Choo, were unscathed by any disparaging comments and were well-received.


Many people attributed the adverse response to Yeoh’s fervent support for Najib and BN. But then this should not be the primary reason because supporting a party of your choice is an inherent right in a budding democracy.


My two cents worth is that Yeoh’s profession in Chinese culture and tradition is deemed not worthy of any acclaim. Singers and actresses are lowly in the Chinese scale of respect.

A famous tale is often told about the love life of famed singer Teresa Teng. At the height of her singing fame, she fell in love and was poised to wed  the son of a Hong Kong billionaire. The family matriarch made one condition, that Teng should abandon her flourishing career, before she could marry her son.

Teng opted not to comply with the condition and the rest was history. She continued her singing career and found an ageing Caucasian lover. She died under circumstances that could have been avoided had she married the billionaire’s son.

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