Group picture of MAA leaders and us. L-R: Mr Steve Chai (property developer), Datuk Stanley Cheah (chain restaurant owner), H E Datuk Seri Jamaludin Jarjis, Mr K S Bong, YB Zulkifly Nordin, Datuk Hamidon Ali (the UN Permanent Rep/Ambassador), YB Datuk Richard Riot Jaem
On 9th October 2009, we were invited to attend a dinner function organised by The Malaysia Association of America (MAA) to celebrate its 25th Anniversary and 52nd Year of Independence of Malaysia. It was attended by about 800 Malaysians (many of whom have set up homes in New York) and some New Yorkers. I am proud to say that they are still very patriotic as we can see from the decors of the occasion with the “Wau Bulan” (kite) from Kelantan, the fashion show of Malaysian costumes with “kain songket” and the lion dance, which had the lion head decorated with a batek design – the first of its kind!
Despite not receiving much support from the Ministry of Tourism in terms of providing a choreographer and other support for the celebration, the fashion show was of some standard. The Ministry of Tourism should have had capitalised on this occasion to promote Malaysia to Malaysians in New York as well as New Yorkers. It is hoped that in future the Ministry of Tourism will actively take part in such an occasion not only in New York but other cities around the world to promote Malaysia abroad.
The function was declared opened by its president, Mr K S Bong, with the words “MERDEKA! MERDEKA! MERDEKA! It was an impressive event that I will never forget.
I was informed that every year the MAA organises such a gathering for Malaysians in New York to meet each other. I was also shocked to learn that this was the first time that an Ambassador of ours to the United States had graced the occasion. When His Excellency YB Datuk Seri Jamaludin Jarjis (fondly known as JJ) was delivering his speech there were applause after applause and a standing ovation. Our brothers and sisters in New York were extremely happy with the presence of His Excellency. I am extremely disappointed with all the previous Ambassadors for failing to attend such an important function and conveying their attitude of unconcern and neglect for Malaysians in New York, who are as patriotic as Malaysians back home.
I was also informed that there are about 100,000 Malaysians working or doing business in the USA and 50,000 of them are in New York. Many of them in New York are very successful businessmen and they have not been given any helping hand by our embassy and their achievements abroad have not been given recognition by our Malaysian government. This is a sorry state of affairs. For a start, some of the successful businessmen in the USA should at least be conferred Datukship for their successes have made Malaysia proud in a foreign land.
On 9th October 2009, too, the New York Senator Martin J Golden presented to MAA a Certificate of Proclamation which amongst others proclaimed that “it is the sense of the New York Senate that the individuals and organzations that work to improve the quality of life of the community they serve merit the highest commendations of the State Senate and the people of New York.”
It is hoped that His Excellency Datuk Seri JJ will not stop at just attending the function but to also take positive steps to foster a better relationship with Malaysians in the USA and, more importantly, to make them feel that Malaysia is proud of their achievements.
Lastly, I would like to say a big Thank You to Mr K S Bong and his MAA members for extending the invitation to YB Datuk Richard Riot Jaem (MP for Serian), YB Zulkifli Nordin (MP for Kulim Bandar) and yours truly to attend this auspicious occasion. On behalf of all Malaysians, I would like to also state that we are very proud of you Malaysians in America, who have ventured out to a foreign land against all odds and yet can be successful.
P/s I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my colleague in UN for two days YB Datuk Abd Rahman, MP for Sabak Bernam, being conferred with the title of Datuk by Tuan Yang DiPertua of Melaka.