Is a Title so Important? Koon Yew Yin


 IPOH (July 26): The Perak government has established the State Economic Advisory Council (SEAC) as part of aggressive efforts to attract investments to the state, said Menteri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu.

He said the council would also look into creating more job opportunities for locals and boost economic growth.

“The state government is confident the council will assume a significant role in shaping Perak’s new economic direction that will would not only be compatible with current and future (economic) developments but also enable everyone to reap economic benefits.

“SEAC, comprising seven eminent persons from various sectors, will be chaired by former Bernama Chairman Datuk Seri Anuar Zaini,” he said in a statement today.

The remaining six council members are MK Land Bhd Executive Chairman Tan Sri Mustafa Kamal, KL Kepong Bhd Managing Director Tan Sri Lee Ooi Hian, former State Secretary Datuk Seri Shamsudin Mat Dubi, former Malaysian Industrial Development Authority deputy director-general Datuk J. Jegathesan, Perak Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Nga Kor Ming and business tycoon Koon Yew Yin, the co-founder of IJM Bhd, Gamuda Bhd and Mudajaya Bhd.  

Some of my friends who have read the news media that I was chosen as one of the 7 members of the Perak State Economic Advisory Council (SEAC), told me that I will soon get my Datoship.  In fact, many people told me that I should get a title by hook or by crook.

Is a Title so Important? 

Up till now, I have not responded whenever I was told to get a title. I was afraid to say that I could have got one, if I wanted because some of people would say that I was bluffing. It is like the episode of the short man who could not reach to pluck a bunch of grapes said those grapes were sour. That is the origin of the English saying - sour grapes.

About 50 years ago, I was a member of the Board of Engineers for 3 terms of 2 year each, the maximum period as allowed by law. The Board members were Director Generals of Government Departments such as Public Works, Drainage & Irrigation, Railways, LNN, representative of University Malaysia, Architect Association, Surveyors and I was representing the construction industry. All the members except I had titles. I was asked if I wanted a title.

About the same time, I was also a member of the drafting committee in (SIRIM) for cement and concrete.

I was also the Secretary General of the Master Builders Association Malaysia for 9 years.

Many people said that I deserved a title due to the fact that I have been a co-founder of Mudajaya, Gamuda and IJM Corporations, 3 of the leading construction companies in the country. Moreover, I have served in so many important committees.



About 30 years ago when Sultan Aslan Shah accented to the throng, he wanted to raise money to build a stadium for cycling. A Datoship title would cost Rm 100,000. When I was approached, I refused to pay.

I was told the going rate for a datoship is now Rm 200,000. You can imagine the amount a Sultan would get for each birthday. If he offers 100 datoships, he would get Rm 20 million. 

In fact, a few years ago, the former Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng offered me a Dato Sri title and I declined.

By the way, my wife just told me that I stand out because I do not have a title.

I am just wondering whether I can overcome my ego if I am offered a Tan Sri by the Federal Government.

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