By Margaret Matthews, Senior Columnist
Coming from a British Commonwealth country in South Asia, where the adjacent countries obtained their independence one after the other several decades ago, I was anxious to know the results of the referendum in Scotland, and I’m glad of the outcome.
“United we stand, divided we fall.” Unless Scotland has a very strong economy of its own, it’s best to remain as part of Britain, where strength in military power and financial resources is strong enough to cover all their needs.
Judging from what I had personally seen when I lived in South Asia, it would appear that Britain had done a lot to develop those countries when they were part of the British Commonwealth in building bridges, roads, cities, schools, hospitals, houses and residences; recruiting, educating, and training the locals to live productive lives.
My grandparents were alive at the time, and they spoke very highly of how the British had built the British Military Hospital, which was the largest and most-used hospital in Rangoon (Yangon), the capital city of Burma. My grandfather worked as a doctor at this hospital, where staff cared for the wounded soldiers during the war, as well as the locals who had all sorts of tropical diseases. The British-trained doctors and staff were able to obtain medical information, equipment like X-rays and other technologies, and medication from their colleagues and counterparts in Britain that were not available in Burma.
However, Burma got “itchy feet” and, like teenagers without jobs and money, opted to leave home. Burma requested and obtained its independence from British rule. All the British personnel left and went back to their homeland, while the locals subsequently suffered without medical, financial, and military aid. The country has suffered social and political unrest with strikes, protests, and even bloodshed on the streets with its ongoing problems ever since. The country’s politics changed from democratic to socialist, with an overthrow of the president who was incarcerated, which was the beginning of the country’s many problems.
Although some of these developing countries may have rich natural resources like oil, teak, and precious stones like rubies, sapphires, and jade, it takes a lot of financial resources to develop and operate mines and refineries, so that the products can be polished and ready for consumerism.
India, Pakistan, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Singapore, Malaysia, and recently Hong Kong have also obtained their independence, but have they fared any better than when they were under British rule? I should say not. These countries still suffer from overpopulation, poverty, lack of sanitary conditions such as clean water, lack of proper nutrition. In the case of India, the caste system has always been the great divide between its citizens.
For this reason, many immigrants come to North America in search of a better life, and more opportunities for themselves and their future generations. While Britain and North America have had a head start for centuries to develop and build themselves, it’s definitely wiser to stay within the governance of a strong and financially stable country.