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Personal Titles Explained

As a wealth manager, you will meet many people.  They come from various background, culture, countries.  Sometimes, they have titles that we are not familiar with.  And it will be embarrassing if we greet them wrongly.

Here, we compile a list of commonly seen Personal Titles:



A Professor is the highest academic ranking as a teacher.  A professor lectures in university / college.

Greeting: Prof Tan or Professor Tan



Dr is a Personal Title most people know, especially when we fall sick.  The title Doctor originates from a Latin word meaning “to teach”.

A Doctor is someone who practices medicine and be a physician (GP), surgeon, dentist or veterinarian.

A Doctor can also be someone who obtained a doctorate level degree such as PhD

Greeting: Dr. Tan, Dr. Ahmad, Dr. John


In Malaysia


A state given title in Malaysia in honour of achievements or contribution

Greeting: Datuk Ahmad, Datuk Tan



The wife of a Datuk, as above.


Tan Sri

The second highest title awarded in Malaysia.  There are 2 types of award with a maximum of 325 living Tan Sri.

Panglima Mangku Negara (PMN): 75

Panglima Setia Mahkota (PSM): 250

Puan Sri: Wife of a Tan Sri

Greeting: Tan Sri Ahmad



The highest title awarded in Malaysia.  There can only be a maximum of 35 living Tun for Malaysians.  Foreigners can also be awarded Tun.

Famous Tun:  Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister for Malaysia 1981 to 2003

Greeting: Tun Ahmad 


Toh Puan

Wife of Tun



Prince or Princess in Malaysia

Greeting: Tengku Ahmad



Agong is the King of Malaysia.  The full title is Yang di-Pertuan Agong.  As there is only 1 King each time, most of us will never get to see him personally.

The King’s wife is known as Raja Permaisuri Agong.  In English, the King and Queen are known as “His Majesty” and “Her Majesty”.

Full Greeting: Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku* + full name

* Tuanku means Sultan / Ruler of State.  In Malaysia, there are 13 states of which 9 are eligible for election to be the King of Malaysia.


In Indonesia

Pak or Bapak

Greeting an elder (man) in Indonesia.  It means “Father” or “Sir”

For example, Pak John, Pak Santoso, Pak Jokowi, Bapak.


Greeting an elder (female) in Indonesia.  It means “Mother” or “Madam”

For example, Ibu Mary, Ibu Megawati


President Director

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in Indonesia



Director / Member of the Board of Director in Indonesia


“ It’s always the little things “