In response to the Malaysiakini report ‘Why I left Malaysia’ – emigrants tell their tale, readers write in on the various push and pulls factors that influenced their decision to leave the country for good.
Leaving Malaysia was a necessity more than a desire for me. Having been involved in the infrastructural development of the country from the 80s through to 2000, I am proud to have seen Malaysia at its best.
However, the refusal of the powers-that-be at that time to face the reality of the day, ie, the financial crisis and the propping up of failed and unsustainable enterprises while all the neighbouring countries ‘bit the bullet’ and restructured their economy showed the lack of honesty in looking for a holistic solution.
Instead, self-interest took over in what seemed like a frenzied desperation for survival. All the efforts to build a more equitable society went out the window.
Then the obvious departure of hundreds of well-qualified and experienced productive young and old Malaysians and the stagnant if not failing economy and half-witted policies, the race and religious issues, the lack of freedom of speech and the ‘Sodomy I’ trial all saw the deterioration of a beautiful, peaceful and prosperous Malaysia into a quasi-banana republic (almost).
The rise of Islamic fundamentalist, the biased justice system and the treatment by the various arms of the legislative, judiciary, police, etc, have all contributed to our decision to move out of our lovely country.
Citizenship is not an issue for the millions of illegals from neighbouring countries but only for those who stood shoulder-to-shoulder to make the country what it is today. At a time when we should be reaping the fruits of our labour having contributed constructively to the growth of the country, we are shunned as outsiders.
Well, we know our self-worth and so do the countries that welcome us as we continue to contribute to the growth and well-being of the societies we live in – for that is what we do best and all we need is a little bit of appreciation for a job well done.
Alas Malaysia, thou art a flower in a monkey’s hand. Until and unless the youth of today see the actualisation of a free and fair society, the laws of nature (such as water finds its own level) will force Malaysia to correct itself unceremoniously, and finally attain a steady state of social (and other) justices.
My name is Aswad Abdul, female, 32 years old, living in Perth, Western Australia and working for the Red Cross Australia. This is not my real name because I used to represent Malaysia in junior tennis and also for the privacy of my family.
I left Malaysia in 1996 and have taken up Australian citizenship three years ago. My family is still in Malaysia. My heart is always with them but I left because I think I could help my family more and give better opportunities to them if one day they decided to join me here.
And by that I mean not to make my family unnecessarily rich because I lead a very simple life and I just want to see my family’s social standard in the community improve by allowing them the ability to buy good food or even get better healthcare with the money I send back home.
I also believe that by being here, I can help more people in Malaysia as we know that there are still those who are very, very poor and I send all my zakat money to them through the help of friends who will divide the money back home. I think that my proudest achievement is that I have also sold my terrace home in Section 7, Shah Alam, to raise money to help those in need such as orphans, single parents, the elderly, those with disabilities and others.
I pay for my siblings’ education so they do not have the rely on government loans or scholarships although they qualify. I believe they should give up their rights to others who really can’t afford it and need such opportunities more. Although I am now ‘homeless’; I feel calm and peaceful for the lives I have helped and changed.
I miss my parents everyday. However, I believe that my sacrifice will bring changes to those who have crossed paths with me – by them doing the same as I did or even better. I’m here not to get rich or for the laid back lifestyle but to share what I have earned with others and give them a better chance in life.
I live and work in the United States. Alhamdulillah, my salary is in the six figures. I was a senior executive at public-listed company (listed on Amex) for two and a half years. My wife is from the US and we moved back to the US in 1998 because her father had a stroke and he was in coma for two years. We lived in Malaysia for five years – 1993 to 1998. My first child was born in Malaysia.
I am staying in the US because my family has developed roots here. We are becoming part of community here. Even though I like it here, but deep down I still prefer to go back to Malaysia (my tanah air). I always think about Malaysia (almost daily) and plan to retire there.
Shahrul Abdul Latip
Saya, Shahrul Abdul Latip. Berhijrah kerja ke negara-negara Teluk di Timur Tengah sejak dari empat tahun yang lepas. Bertugas sebagai Pegawai Keselamatan dan Kesihatan Pekerjaan di aliran minyak dan gas.
Berhijrah bukan kerana wang semata-mata tetapi kerana karenah birokrasi kerajaan dan juga kerenah majikan. Sukar untuk seseorang seperti saya yang hanya berbekalkan sijil dari Angkatan Tentera Malaysia mendapat posisi yang baik di tempat kerja walaupun mempunyai kredibiliti bekerja.
Majikan memandang kepada ‘kertas’ manakala kerajaan memberi kelebihan kepada siswazah – walaupun siswazah tidak ingin jawatan tersebut.
Di Timur Tengah, setelah memenuhi segala keperluan, saya diberikan taraf pegawai berdaftar dalam tempoh seminggu. Jika di Malaysia, saya akan dibolak balik ke sana dan kemari selama setahun sekurang-kurangnya.
Untuk mendapat posisi di Malaysia, soalan yang diajukan antaranya; ‘Siapa yang anda kenal’?
Di sini, setelah memenuhi kriteria dan selepas tempoh percubaan, maka pekerja itu di ‘confirm’ kan. Saya dihormati sebagai ‘army veteran’ walaupun saya dari ‘rank-and-file’.
I spent 22 years of my life in Malaysia, most of it in East Malaysia and I find Malaysia a beautiful country with amazing culture, food and people. When I left for Australia to pursue my engineering degree, I didn’t expect that I would leave Malaysia indefinitely. Just a few months of living in Australia changed my mind. Though the food they serve here is not even near to Malaysia’s hawker standard, but one cannot deny that Australia is much more multi-cultural than Malaysia.
Australia being an immigrant country, you will find every house along the street you live in comes from all over the world. You don’t see one race congregating in one area. People mix, people mingle, people socialise. The people have a say on the city’s infrastructure and development. Everything is designed and built for a reason, and not for the politician’s pocket.
I don’t get a second-level treatment here in Australia, compared to Malaysia where I’m a second-tier citizen. I’m far better off here in this so-called ‘foreign country’ even though I am not a citizen.
With equal opportunity being the primary driver, the good remuneration paid by the companies and great working conditions here seal the deal for me. I got my permanent residency soon after graduation, worked for the government in their power station as an electrical engineer. Paid off my car within a few months – no way a fresh graduate can do that in Malaysia.
Upon approval of my permanent resident status, I immediately receive a registration form from their electoral commission to register as a voter. Hey, Australia actually values me as a voter! Even though voting rights are only for citizens, at least they have the courtesy to invite me to register. Malaysia? Never even bothered about my existence. I’m not surprised if they preferred that I didn’t vote.
Looking back at all my peers who started working earlier than me back in Malaysia, they are still no where near me. What does Malaysia hold for its people? An ever-depreciating value of the currency only makes the conditions worse – pulling the dream of travelling around the world further and further away from those making a living in Malaysia.
Malaysia, once the tiger economy of Asia in the 60s, now overtaken by Indonesia and Thailand. What a shame for the country’s ‘leaders’.
My name is Suresh Simson, currently working as a mining consultant in Brisbane, Australia.
When I fist arrived in Australia in 2007, the job recruitment agent told me that I am are highly skilled and a lot of people will be lining up to hire me.
This was just the opposite of what I was told in Malaysia, where people only looked at my weakness and looked for ways to put me down and exploit me the maximum that they could.
Fed up with all the racism I felt as an Indian in Malaysia, this motivated me to move to Australia, which I now proudly call home.
Unlike Malaysia, I can see great future for my children in Australia and have no worries about racism. I was very surprised when I found out that the former Australian rugby captain was of African descent while the vice-captain of the women’s cricket team was of Indian origin.
As for coming back to Malaysia, unless Malaysia is hit by a real tsunami which in turn makes Malaysians think that God created all human equal, then I don’t want to be part of a racist country called Malaysia.
This is first of a four-part series where Malaysiakini invited the Malaysian diaspora to write about why they left the country. More tomorrow.