during the kampung angkat project two weeks ago, my batchmates and i had to sit through an opening and closing ceremony, both of which were graced by some politicians, the village committee and representatives from my university. as usual, each ceremony began with lengthy greetings and acknowledgment of the very important persons present.
it annoyed the heck out of me.
what came to mind was the time when i took a trip to australia with my aunt’s family, both for a break and to help my cousin settle in. there was a little welcoming party for the freshies and when the dean took the stage, without a master of ceremony mind you, all he said was “welcome parents, students and my colleagues.” my pro-migration uncle leaned over and pointed out the lack of fanfare, the relaxed setting and compared it to the formalities and protocol that have to be followed at every event in malaysia. there was no stress about the order in which vips should be introduced, no worries about their titles (is there a yang berbahagia or not?), no flowery introductions.
that incident stuck with me for a long time and probably contributed to my annoyance during the ceremonies mentioned above.
this post started out as a rant against the needless protocol to be followed during events like that in malaysia. i was initially irked by how tiresome it must be to name each and every single vip, announce their posts and make sure all that is done in descending order of their rank or risk committing a faux pas.
but then i thought about how i would feel about the whole situation if i were a very important person. the member of parliament, the senator, the deputy hospital director, the dean of my clinical school, the chairperson of the committee that put the event together…is our culture ready to adopt a relaxed approach to things, where each person’s past achievements and current responsibilities are deemed irrelevant, that we can consider ourselves as equals? i don’t think so.
maybe it’s because i grew up here, but i think a high ranking official would definitely like to have their contributions recognised. to have their name and rank and title mentioned before others. to have their position acknowledged and be respected. in a way it is rather silly and immature, but i don’t think we’re ready for casual introductions just yet.
that said, it would make alot more people alot more humble if we just did away with protocol and just got on with the program. it would make things run alot more efficiently too once we look beyond formalities and got straight to the point. it’s a little unfortunate that we’re not ready for it, but that’s culture for you.