Abang Long has matriculated. In November, having successfully completed the necessary requirements of kindergarten, Long was graduated from Taski Abim, Seri Wangi branch. And, as befits such an accomplishment, a ceremony was held for him and his classmates at the Dewan Pustaka dan Bahasa.
Parents are of course suckers for seeing their kids in this kind of thing, so I, my wife, and the two toddling siblings took Long for his moment of glory. Little did we know just how long they would drag it out. Malaysians love a little pomp and ceremony, and are very particular about titles. Instead of a simple ladies and gentlemen, the MC will address every category of human in the audience. To make matters worse, the plural form in Malay is to repeat the word twice, so a typical conference will start with “Yang Berhormat-yang berhormat, datuk-datuk, professor-professor, doctor-doctor, tuan-tuan dan puan-puan sekalian, it is my pleasure to…” Then, each speaker before they begin will go through the litany again. The more dignataries at the event, the longer the litany, since their are a multitude of titles that roughly correspond to the British “Sir”. Well, Long’s graduation ceremony not only featured a local Member of Parliament (Yang Berhormat, The Honorable), but also was composed in the main of young kids. I kid you not, the litany included “abang-abang dan adik-adik”, that is, Big Brothers and Little Kids (younger sibling literally). The speeches were followed with skits performed by the various classes, including a reenactment of the Puteri Santubong legend. The afternoon concluded with each six-year-old, bedecked in juba (gown) and decorated songkok, having his name read aloud, walking the stage, and receiving a fake diploma in hand from the YB’s representative, which was promptly taken from him as he exited stage left to be used again for the next batch of kids. Despite the incredibly long drawn-out nature of the event, it was still good fun, because of course we too are suckers for seeing our kids in this kind of thing.