It's no easy feat to master the art of using the right honorary titles that are conferred in Malaysia all the time. To avoid the embarrassment of confusing these official terms, Malaysia Tatler consulted KL Speakers' Club president and the royal figurehead of social etiquette Tunku Dara Tunku Tan Sri Naquiah to shed some light.
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Unlike titles that are conferred by state or federal leaders in Malaysia, some titles are inherited by members of the royal family, most notably terms like ‘Tengku’ and ‘Tunku’ (translated to prince or princess). What’s the difference between the two?
“They are actually the same; but ‘Tunku’ is written this way in the states of Kedah, Johore and Negeri Sembilan,” says Tunku Dara.
“In Pahang, Selangor, Kelantan and Terengganu, this term is spelt ‘Tengku’. However, in Perlis, it is ‘Syed’ and in Perak it is ‘Raja’.”