A few weeks ago I read an article in the letters section of the New Straits Times about the absurdity for students to wear neckties in schools. The writer, who works at Perak Islamic Information Centre, expressed his sympathy towards school children because they are forced to wear neckties, even in the contemporary hot weather happening now in Malaysia. The necktie was invented by the British to keep themselves warm in their chilling country. To wear a necktie in a tropical region that has hot and humid weather throughout the whole year would be completely foolish. Unfortunately, not only kids are forced to wear them, but also working adults.
Dr. Mohammad Amir Meera Hussain, the writer, also says at the beginning of his article that Malaysians are not truly independent of the British albeit the fact that Malaysia achieved its ‘state’ independence from the British. I absolutely agree with that and I’ve noticed it a long time ago too. The country is still culturally and ideologically colonized. Since the British occupation of Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia), many cultural influences have been instilled in the local people, like wearing the necktie. Western culture have been practiced even if it is impractical. Those influences are still not gone even when Malaysians finally declared themselves ‘independent’. In fact, this phenomenon doesn’t only occur in Malaysia but also to most countries that was previously under British occupation.
Today I’ll be comparing two of those countries- Malaysia and the most remarkable country granted independence by Britain, the United States of America. We’ll see that Malaysia lacks to have its own identity and must do more to achieve the height of Malay nationalism.
- Politics & Ideology
- Freedom & liberty
These two countries are free. Perhaps too free. Everyone has the right to do whatever they want as long they don’t hurt others. That means you can go to night clubs and being intoxicated throughout the night.
A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation Poll shows that one fifth of young women who attended college during the past four years had unwanted sex. Two thirds of college sexual assault victims say that they had been drinking just before they are raped by another student that have been coaxing the victim.
Alcohol has many harmful effects, namely brain damage and alcohol abuse. Not to mention that it affects decision-making ability, which potentially leads to violent and unpredictable behavior. It is easy to predict what’s next in the domino effect of the alcohol- fighting, murder, accidents, and sexual assaults as explained earlier.
That’s only the beginning. To name a few more of what could be possible from excessive liberty- gambling, homicide, suicide, gangsterism, theft, bribery, women abuse, etc. It’s actually simpler than it looks. If one commits any of those mentioned just now, even if it’s just once, they have a tendency to carry out another crime. For instance, when someone lost in a gamble, they need to eat by using their wife’s money or a person’s money who is just across the street. Or things can get big when the loser calls a couple of his goons to beat up his opponent. In turn, his opponent calls his gang to retaliate, and they won’t stop until either side steps down.
Let’s look at how freedom affects the country’s development. Imagine a country with full of patriotic people. Now, imagine another country with only half of the people are patriotic. Which country can develop faster and better? Through the idea of freedom, people are given the choice to serve or to abandon the country, but, although we don’t care much about the country, we still contribute to it. Yet, there is still a difference. There’s a difference between those who carry out their job wholeheartedly and those who carry out the job just for the sake of money. I attended an acting class a few weeks ago. What I learnt is that actors should not only act as his character, he should be his character. Acting is not only in the form of physical movements but also, inner embrace. If he acts only using the former, therefore it can clearly be seen that his actions are merely just actions, putting it in a simpler way- fake. At the contradictory, if he uses the former and the latter, with lots of practice, it will be too hard to regard his actions as fake. Same goes to the gears of the country (people), if they carry out their work with a whole lot of effort with the synergistic aim to achieve the goals of the country according to the country’s ideology, the results are like the movie that is starred by excellent actors, not one that only comes up in the TV.
As a result of freedom being the core value, the government is actually gambling their money for people who their loyalty to the country are unsure.For example, houses built by the government would be inhabited by people who have little appreciation for the country, people won’t support local products but rather foreign products and companies, and scholarship receivers would one day live in another country which is more luxurious and lush as they got rich. As we can see, the effort done by the government are often, or at least sometimes, like freeing a hungry lion. In simpler words, this kind of freedom raises traitors.
It’s not freedom that I want to blame. Freedom is good and important. It’s the education system and the norm. Young children, like me, were rarely taught to dedicate our life to the country except for just waving the flag on National Day to show patriotism, which is, not patriotic at all. Freedom should only be in the method, the way you achieve the goal. Either you’re an online businessman or someone who’s just flipping burgers across the street, the goal is the same, to get income. The aim is what we must synergise, not doing things differently for different things.
- Secularism & religion
When Malaya signed the independence treaty, they agreed to live harmoniously with the various races and ethnicities there are in Malaya. Therefore, they think it is crucial to implement a secularist nation to ensure the unity between people of different ethnicities and origins. Politics and religion are set at different sides, so that people can unite in politics but divide in religion.
This secularist thinking is seen in both Malaysia and the US. People mind their own business in religion but unite in political affairs (they actually don’t either, as mentioned earlier). What needs to be understood by these people from these two countries is that there is/are religion(s) that needs to have a platform for itself, which is their own country, as an enforcement of that religion. This/these religion(s) cannot coexist in a secularist nation. To name one (I only know one), Islam. Islam needs a platform of its own, therefore it cannot be practiced in a secularist country because its teachings are contradicted to secularism. In Islam, politics and religion are inseparable, as they both mean the same. Politics are about religion, and religion is about politics. You could call Islam as a political and social ideology because it really is and I’ll be talking about this in further detail next time. Meanwhile, read a closely related article here: How Religion and Ideology Collide
Yet, Malaysia is so proud of its de justo status as an “Islamic” country when the de facto is the opposite. Too much for following the globalization era where secularism is seen as a virtue, particularly the US. For Malaysia, or any other country to be a truly Islamic country, the only way is to follow the Quran- that can be started by putting the secularist thinking in the bin.
In a U.S. dollar bill, you can see a motto printed on it ‘In God we trust’. That is the official motto of the United States that first appeared in 1864 on US coins. Similarly, Malaysia’s first Rukunegara (national principle) is ‘Belief in God’.
As far I can see, there are those who don’t believe in God in both of these countries. There are more people who practice a religion but their faith and devotion are weak. If their devotion are strong, then there should be less crime in these countries. If the Muslims, especially, are devoted to God then, they shouldn’t have even lived in those countries as explained earlier that Islam needs a country of its own. These countries should also be filled with humane and philosophical people through the teachings of the Buddha and Confucius, but almost everyone I meet or see (Americans are observed through movies and social media) in these two countries are pleasure seekers or greedy for something. Alcohol, too, shouldn’t be consumed because every major religion prohibits that.
Let’s move on to constitution. Malaysia and the US practice democracy. Politics seems like a game where politicians compete to win the most votes. To me, the word ‘win’ shouldn’t even exist in politics. In politics, people need to exchange ideas by taking other’s opinions into consideration, unlike today’s politicians who are only standing on their own ideology and ways they want to administrate the country. The politician with the most votes win and the other politician’s ideas are not able to be exercised. Politics aren’t about who has the best ideas or the best things you can give to the people, politics are about working together by synergising every effort and ideas. Politics aren’t about who rules the country, it’s how to rule the country together. Every politicians should be discussing intellectually how to combine their ideas, not blowing their trumpets to other politicians who has the best ideas, votes or popularity.
However, Malaysia is also a constitutional monarchy, which means Malaysia has a king. But, the power is very marginal compared to the power of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is the de facto ruler of Malaysia. The king is only used in royal ceremonies like the inauguration of the Prime Minister or giving the title ‘Dato’ to a person who contributed a lot to the nation.
-Both of these countries are multi-racial. In the U.S. there are the White (72.4%), Black (12.6%), and Asian (4.8%) (mostly Chinese, 25% of Asian Americans) Americans which form the three largest ethnic groups. On the other hand, Malaysia has Malays, Chinese, and Indians, which also form the three largest ethnic groups.
-The counterpart for the U.S. Congress is the parliament in Malaysia. These two legislative bodies consist of the Houses of Representatives and the Senate.
-Even the flags look pretty much the same.
-Like the United States, Malaysia has three branches of government: the legislative, executive and judicial.
Malaysia has no unique trait of its own that make itself different from other countries, especially from the U.S.A. In a nutshell, these two countries have the same ideology and tenet, and Malaysia is not concern about this fact. Why don’t Malaysia just be a part of the USA since they both stick to the same ideology? Besides, the United States is a much more advanced country. Maybe being under the United States will make Malaysia better, right?Who’s copying who? Definitely not a country that is over a couple of hundred years old copying a half a century old country. Both were once British colonies, and even when that has passed, they still inherit cultures from Britain.
Malaysia needs to work more on their identity and what they stand for. If what they stand for is the same as what another country is, then it’s better to combine. What? To be competitive? To see each other in the Olympics? Oh come on. You can’t just separate these countries so that they can compete each other. We’re talking about human civilization here. There are more important aspects to weigh on than just being competitive, like peace, economy, and achieving these countries’ goals- Freedom.
Malaysia is nationalistic? Not as well. It might not be very apparent in the first part of this article, but it will in the second one, which will be released in a few weeks time. We’ll be discussing on how Malaysia is the Eastern USA based on society and culture.
Next article: Malaysia as the Eastern USA? (Part II)