Australians were shocked and puzzled when Prime Minister Tony Abbott awarded the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, a knighthood on Australia Day.
In Malaysia, the equivalent is Federal Territory Day, or Hari Wilayah Persekutuan. Celebrated on February 1, it marks the day in 1974 when the Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory was formed and ceded by the state of Selangor to Malaysia.
And, just like in Australia, it’s a national day off. Since 2008, it’s also been the day official awards and decorations are handed out.
Yesterday, one of the highest awards went to Jackie Chan. Look:
Datuk Jackie Chan looking segak in that songkok! pic.twitter.com/n2AAwLxHAQ
— Khairy Jamaluddin (@Khairykj) February 1, 2015
The legendary action movie director, actor and stuntman can now add the title “Datuk” to his CV. That’s caused a lot of confusion amongst Malaysians, for much the same reason as why Australians don’t understand how a blue-blood Pom could be knighted ahead of actual Australians.
@staronline This just shows how meaningless these titles are. What are his contributions to our nation?
— Shukur Hasan (@shukur_hasan) February 1, 2015
@CherylxLyrehc ikr he's not even msian or anything why even lol
— qiany (@yvonnetqy) February 1, 2015
As noted above, Chan isn’t Malaysian. He was born in Hong Kong and even briefly attended Dickson College in Canberra, where his parents lived for 40 years while his father worked for the US embassy.
To be conferred the Panglima Mahkota Wilayah, which carries the Datuk title, is to be honoured for contributing towards the development of the Kuala Lumpur federal territory.
Tony Abbott said Prince Philip deserved his knighthood because he was the patron of hundreds of organisations, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards.
There was no such explanation for why officials decided to award Chan his honour. The best reason anyone can come up with so far is that he filmed some movies in Malaysia, including Police Story 2, where he cast local Michelle Yeoh (also Datuk) in the lead.
Regardless of why, in much the same way as Abbott’s call did, the decision has certainly shone the spotlight on the awards.
Also, “Sir Jackie Chan” has a nice ring to it, if there’s a spot available in 2016. Who could ever forget Mr Nice Guy, filmed in Melbourne in 1997?
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