Friday, July 03, 2009

4th July : Americans and us...small comparison

For now, the world looks up at US of A as the big brother, the self appointed Marshall, the leader of the free world. What they say goes, what they do is right. So, let's make a small comparison between US of A and Malaysia, from this scribe point of view...

  1. 4th July is celebrated around the world. Will Smith acted in Independence day, the movie. And most probably, there will be lots and lots of fireworks to celebrate...
  2. Of late, it become synonymous with free world and represents freedom. Leaders across the globe feels proud to be seen with the President of US of A. Even 1M PM6 is happy to report that he got a personal call from President Barrack Obama...
  3. So, being the leading proponent of free world, why not take a peek of their history and compare them to our so-call meagre experience. Of course, the comparison is only limited to the basics and for that reasons, the following are the areas of interest :-

    • Independence and the methods to gain independence;
    • Years of independence;
    • Voting rights to women;
    • Voting rights to blacks;
    • equal opportunity;

  4. Independence and the methods to gain independence

    For US of A, 4th July 1776 will always be remembered as the day where Declaration of Independence was adopted, declaring independence from the United Kingdom. Prior to this declaration, the colonist protested against the taxes levied by the British government where the Boston Tea Party incident happened in 1773.

    To make the story short, the 13 British colonies fight the American Revolutionary war against the British with the help of France and Spain. By 1781, the former colonies ended serious British efforts to find military solution to the American problems.

    For Malaysia, 31st August 1957 will be celebrated as the independence day. It is the day when the Union jack flag was lowered and a new nation is born. This is done through numerous negotiations between representatives of Malaya and the British government.

    16th September 1963 is seen as the date of the formation of Malaysia here Malaya was joined by Sabah, Sarawak and temporarily Singapore. All this is done without any single drop of blood nor do other nations come to our aid in getting the independence.

  5. Years of independence

    US of A gain their independence in 1776 whilst Malaysia gain independence in 1957. That means US of A has achieved independence for the last 233 years whilst Malaysia tasted 52 years of independence.

    In terms of years, Malaysia's years of independence is only 22 % of US of A's independence.

  6. Voting rights to women

    From historical accounts, the rights to vote for women differ from state to state. The first state to give voting rights for women is Wyoming in 1890 which is 114 years after American independence. However, the rights to vote for the whole of American women was only granted in 1920 through the Nineteenth Ammendment to the Constitution, 144 years after independence. And for those smokers out there, you might remember Virginia slim's tobacco ad "We've come a long way, baby"

    Compared to Malaysia,women have their voting rights since the nation's indepence ie in 1957. That means, for a young nation like Malaysia, the womens role in voting were recognise from day one.

  7. Voting rights to Blacks

    Although the fifteenth ammendment to the American constitution ratified in 1870 prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's race, colour or previous condition of servitude" (i.e., slavery), the blacks were denied their voting rights through a series of rigorous voter qualification laws. Finally, the American congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to enable the Blacks to vote. This is 189 years after independence and 45 years after American women gain their rights to vote.

    Malaysia do not have this problem. All citizens were given their voting rights from day one.

  8. Equal opportunity

    The civil rights act of 1991 made major changes in the federal laws against employment discrimination. That is enforced 215 years after independence. Do we have that in Malaysia?

  9. From the above information, Malaysians should be grateful that we do not have to go through years of demanding your basic rights like how a major portion of the American citizens do.
  10. In fact, it should acknowledged that Malaysians receive their basic rights almost immediately when they achieve independence. We do not have to go through the voters qualification laws nor do we have to wait for almost 200 years to be recognized as a legitimate voter.
  11. 4th July will have different meaning for different people. Whilst Americans celebrate their independence day, some will gleefully celebrate their birthdays. This scribe looks at 4th July as a date to be thankful that Malaysians do not have to go through the process like those of Americans. When the nation is born, Malaysians were accorded the rights start from year one. That's the beauty of Malaysia.
  12. However, through the passage of time, some of us start to lose track. Maybe the younger generations did not go through the difficulties of getting indepence and defending this young nation.
  13. For some, blinded by the sparkles from other side of the fence, Malaysia needs to do more and to open up more. We tends to interpret the laws based on our limited knowledge. It does not help when our judiciary system are tainted with some "dubious" judgment, as seen by some quarters. Overall, Malaysia's judiciary is still doing fine but it needs more transparency as well as brave judges to uphold the scale of justice.
  14. Our younger generation also called for better integration between the races. Are we that bad? Do the younger generations experience what their elders experienced? Have the younger generation mixed with each other as well as those of the past? Do the young share food as those of the past? Frankly, the earlier generation has better integration that those of present. The young ones relationship between the present days Ahmad, Wong and Krishnan is superficial at best. Wherelse the Ahmad, Wong and Krishnan of the 50's share the same bed and pillow, playing soccer together and hanging out in rivers together and share their happiness and sadness through thick and thin. That's what real integration is.
  15. Of course, there will be hiccups here and there. That's when the people has to judge whether to ammend the constitution or to live with the hiccup.
  16. Why is US of A different from other countries in the world? It is a land of opportunity, a land where the British and the French and the Spanish came to discover. It's vastness makes it impossible for any great nations of the past to colonise the whole country, thus British can muster only 13 colonies (which at that time is the biggest). And that is why Americans gains independence from the British which leads me to ask aloud - If America gains independence from the British, why isn't America a member of the Commonwealth? Is it because those who settled in America are free citizens and not convicts like those in the Southern hemisphere? (For those who do not know which country I am referring to, please brush up your history and consider this as an assignment :))
  17. And for those who loves comparing, study how the natives of US of A were sidelined from development. Up to now, they are still sidelined living in dwindling reservations across the country. Do we have the same in Malaysia?
  18. For those travellers, have you ever tried travelling across US of A? Can you feel the animosity if you passed through the great southern belt, just because you looks different? And see how they eye you if you have purdah clad women in your group. Really, this happens although it is not as bad as it used to be...But you can't blame them either, because of their experience or how the media painted others to be. Do you feel scared passing through Jinjang (if you are non-Chinese) or Kg Baru (if you are non-Malay) or Sentul (if you are non-Indians)? No, isn't it because you feel the comfort of being Malaysians?
  19. Try understanding their American football. They claimed it's the biggest game in the world (because their world is only US of A). So now you know who is the "frog under the coconut shell".
  20. So, what is this scribe trying to say? Simple, this land we called Malaysia with its shortcomings and system is still the place that we stay and proudly called home. We always look and think that the grass is greener on the other side, but is it really? And that is why "wherever we stand, that's where we uphold the sky" (hopefully it's correct Dimana bumi dipijak, disitu langit dijunjung).
  21. One last note, Malaysia was born on September 1963, a full 2 years before Blacks of US of A gets the full rights to vote.
  22. Some may be proud to hear the star spangled banner tonite but I will settle with Negaraku. And for those who celebrate their birthdays on 4th July, let me wish you Happy Birthday....
Till then...G'nite M'sia...wherever u are...

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