Monday, August 06, 2007

The Prime Minister's wife is NOT the First Lady

Local Malaysian media including the national news agency, Bernama, are referring to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad's wife, Jeanne Danker Abdullah, as the "First Lady." As far as I am aware, it is incorrect.

First Lady is a term applied to the spouse of the head of state, not the head of government such as prime minister. Malaysia's head of state is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and his consort, the Raja Permaisuri Agong IS MALAYSIA'S FIRST LADY.

The title of First Lady was "introduced" in 1849, when United States President Zachary Taylor called Dolley Madison, "First Lady" at her state funeral. The United States president is the country's head of state. The entire family of the head of state is known as the "First Family."

PM Abdullah is the head of the government and not the head of state. Therefore, his wife is not the First Lady nor his family can be referred to as the "First Family."

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