Wednesday, March 23, 2005

US Malaysian Relations

Warning: Long (Boring) post ahead

I was discussing my future plans with my colleagues today during lunch and I casually mentioned that I would like to do my PhD in the US. Initially we started off debating the pro and cons vis-à-vis studying in the UK and Australia. However, our discussion moved to the problems that many Malaysians faced while traveling to the states. I guess it is not restricted to Malaysians and that people of other nationalities have to face the same hassles, including long delays before obtaining visas, strip searches at the airports and so on. A friend joked that anyone with a Bin (meaning ‘son of’ in Arabic) in their name (that means almost all Malays) will face some short of problem in the US.

I was wondering whether Americans are that stupid. I am sure they know by now that having a 'bin' doesn’t mean you are related to Osama Bin Laden. However, the fact that many in the west, still refer to him as Bin Laden makes me think twice.

Anyway, I just recalled a recent visit to our office by a Councilor, Economic Affairs from the American Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. His talk was quite an eye opener.

Despite some rough moments (some of you may recall the dinner speech to the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum on 16 October 1998 by the then US Vice-President Al Gore supporting ‘Reformasi’) and differences on certain issues (Iraq invasion) US-Malaysian relations have remained fairly good. According to the Prime Minister, Malaysia's current relations with the United States are "the best we've ever had."

At present, Malaysia is the United States' 10th largest trading partner and its 16th-largest export market. On the other hand, the US is Malaysia's largest trading partner and the top business destination. The two-way trade in 2003 amounted to a total of over US$36 billion. The US had invested an estimated US$29 billion here and American firms employ some 100,000 Malaysians. This includes my friends in Intel and Dow Chemicals. In fact it’s a win-win situation despite the fact that the balance of trade in favour of Malaysia. It should be noted that US trade with Malaysia supports nearly 200,000 jobs in the U.S. A large part of the trade is also intrafirm trade. For example, the Asian Composite Manufacturing (ACM) facility in Bukit Kayu Hitam in Kedah makes advanced composite panels for the wings of the Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767 and 777 aircraft.. (BTW, ACM is joint-venture with 4 partners, namely,
Boeing, Hexcel Corp, Naluri Bhd and Sime Darby Bhd ). Another interesting information was that more than half of the Dell computers sold in the US are made in Malaysia.

I realize that many people here don’t actually like the US. It’s not like they hate the Americans. It is quite funny considering that we like watching Star Wars, sing rap songs, wear Levis jeans and Nike, drink Coke and eat at McDonalds and blog on a Dell PC, using MS Windows on Blogger.

I guess there is a lesson here but I am not sure…


narrowband said...

Not sure what you're trying to imply here but, I do feel that there're many ignorant Americans who don't give a hoot about what's going on outside their country. Some have not even heard of Malaysia. Other than that, I have nothing against the Americans.

Currently, I'd say that we're in a win-win situation. I think doing postgrad studies in the US isn't a badd idea, too - As far as politics as well as economy are concerned.

By the way, interesting fact I learnt: half of Dell PCs sold are made in M'sia? Wow. Heck, I've more than two Dell machines at home already :p

MunKit said...

erm the gov and the people are 2 different things.. we like american lifestyle, but sometimes we don agree with its policy.

Can't possible anti the whole country. Just the policy-makers perhaps :)

kljs said...

I think American people are kewl, but I don't agree with their political policys towards the international community. or something like that.

Shin said...

Hmm, despite a disagreement in ideology, Malaysia-States relation is not that bad. No doubt the States will remind KL of human rights and press freedom etc every year, but the relations seems still the same. After all, they are important trading partners.

While I agree that the academic environment in the States is generally great, I don't really know abt the pros and cons of doing PhD in UK, US or down under. Maybe you can shed some light on us by listing them.

Hmm... Marina because I have added the extended post function to my blog, so I wanna give it a try. I really like her writings. Some more, they will dissappear in Star's website sooner or later.

Is it still difficult to get a student visa to US nowadays ? Have the policy been relaxed or further tightened ?

sweetspirit said...

Interesting.good post you know also in Oz i ordered my pc and had to wait for it to be shipped from Malaysia,but it was worth it :)

BabyPink said...

about the irony you stated in your last paragraph, it's exactly the samein the philippines. lots of people don't like te US, but just can't do away without american goodies.:)

SunGrooveTheory said...

I will come right out and admit, I am a stupid American. I do try to keep abreast with current global events, but I'm afraid I get behind sometimes.

I don't think post-grad in the US is a bad idea. I think many Americans are open-minded, fair enough to accept 'people of other cultures?' Am I phrasing that P.C.?

On the other hand, shamefully, there are tons of ignorant Americans, mainly congealing towards the south-eastern portions of the States...

Also, there are many Americans who do disagree with our government... including our "international policies."

Ah, but the point is, should you decide to attend university here, you'll find more educated people, and I think it would be a more friendly experience than you might guess based on the bad name we get from our government and a few ignorant people.

shifty said...

let's not confuse the americans with the american government :) they are ashamed of their president and foreign policies already. bagi chancelah :)

Kervin said...

I think many people would say the American study institutions are top notch just that the hassle of processing students had increased since Sept 11. Government policy and public opinion are two different aspects and many citizens don't agree with their nations policies. Yet at times of panic mass fears and ignorance might lead people to target individuals not based on individuals but group them in a target group to vent anger and fear, there's when the 'bin' would be used as a label for anyone remotely associated or perceived as terrorists without regard to which country or nationality they hail from.

alwin said...

There is somewhat true arguments posted here but again i will blame or hate people who do not know/lack the understaning about the east's *traditon?* (i am not even sure if that is the right word to be said here.)

Ignorance can sometime make things from bad to worst but i choose to believe that a group of people's thought does not imply that the whole nation perceives the same way, isn't it?

However, The idealogy of hating people from the same religion for one man's action is totally absurb and it goes shows how narrow minded people are..That should not have happened frankly speaking. I don't really know how certain people would go to that extent.

The issue at hand here is the ideology and mentality of certain people, not because they are people from of a nation, not because of the leaders, not because of the religion or because they are from the western side part of the world.

i hope to see that somewhere down the road perhaps in 10-15 years to come, the tie between malaysia and U.S would grow. Hopefully by then, people's perception will change and be more open minded by then.

it would be a shame to see the tie left that way just for economic purposes. There are much more to be learn and gain from any international ties.

alwin said...

ops i meant to say:
i will *not* blame

Adam said...

Thanks for all your comments guys. For Business Management studies, the US is still on top. I guess the American dream is still the ideal dream.

SunGrooveTheory said...

I agree, Alwin.
I attend a very small college, however, a week after 9/11/01, they held a seminar about "Islamic culture" I think it had a different title which I don't recall now. It was a weekly lecture, with coffee and tea, held at the Chaplain's house. About thirty people turned out for it on a weekly basis, which is a pretty good turn-out considering the size of the school. As a spin-off from these lectures, we invited students of other 'eastern' cultures to give additional lectures. I went to as many as I could, and was incredibly grateful for what I learned there.
I'm sure there are some things I am ignorant about as well. When we are not confronted with some ideals in our immmediate surroundings, or on a daily basis, I guess it is not uncommon to be unfamiliar with them. However, I believe that it is my duty to try to understand as much about people as possible, and there are so many people, each an individual, each with his own life-stories.
My ignorance reared its ugly head when I saw a lady for the first time with her hair covered. The cover was so intricate, really beautiful, and she was beautiful, and I was curious. I was around twenty at the time, but had lived in small-towns most of my life and lacked exposure to cultures different from my own. (that is the only excuse I have.) I approached her and asked why she was wearing the hair-covering, because I had seen something on television about it being associated with certain religious beliefs. (yes, my knowledge was incredibly limited.) She became offended, did not answer, but she scowled at me and walked away. I was pretty sad about it because I really had wanted to tell her how beautiful it was and how beautiful she was... I'm sorry that I offended her, but I am endlessly appreciative to those who do take the time to answer my constant inquiries, even the ones they consider offensive or inane.

Adam, thank you for your comments on my blog(s)!! :)


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