Category: Other Perspectives @ Cerebellum


Love, can be heaven on earth, but it can hurt like hell; they had the perfect love story, that could make the movies jealous, until…

It was a bright and sunny Sunday with a scheduled 10am Sunday morning jog, where she would be basking in the warm rays of the morning sun, with heat waves radiating beneath the sheath of glorious yellow light glistening droplets of perspiration trickled down her spine as she jogged her way through St. Evans Park and that was the moment where she met him.

Sitting by the curb of the jogging track, screaming away the agony of pain that was painted across his face as he tugged tightly to his well swollen ankle, he gripped his fist onto the ground so tightly that his knuckles turned white. In his mind, he was thinking to himself, it was a Sunday. What on good heaven’s sake was he doing in St. Evans Park, trailing along to fit couples pacing their way down the track, trying to chase after them as if a hound was attempting to get to the postman’s tail. It’s Sunday – SUNDAY!! It is the day of recreation and relaxation, an opportunity to escape the grindstone of work. He could have gone to play tennis with his budd or golfing with his clients. But he was now grunting away in pain until he met her.

All the pain in him instantly subsided as he saw he pacing her way sown the track, deep inside him, he probably was drooling away, almost salivating. When she saw him, no other words needed to be said, but she immediately helped him towards a nearby bench. Obviously, she couldn’t help him all by herself, so she called for help. Before emergency arrived, she chalked up conversation with him and in that prickly situation “Hi, I’m Emma”. “Hey! Ivan, pleasure. Thanks by the way.” And with that blink of an eye, conversation grew, budding from that park bench, into the ambulance, to the ER. She waited for him that whole afternoon at the ER, followed by that trip, she drove him back to his townhouse opposite St. Evans Park as his ankle as swollen as though it suffered some intense bee attack. That goodbye, made him realize who he had met, he didn’t just met her, he met HER.

As how we would like to put it, that jump start Phase 1 – the hello. It wasn’t long before he realized that Phase 1 only lasted at that stark moment and it would have to be up to him to determine the beginning of Phase 2 – the chase. Almost everyday, or maybe just every weekend where he soon knew of her scheduled 10am Sunday morning jogs, he would he having a constant monologue being spoken in his mind, trying to cook up a story or just a random conversation to show his gratitude for helping him that particular Sunday afternoon.

Trailing her like a lost puppy locating its owner, he managed to grab her attention and asking her for dinner. Well, dinner was declined but a number was exchanged. He stared at that long awaited 10-digit phone number like it was some rare gemstone. By the third day, he gathered everything he had in him and go t the guts to finally ring that number, not long after. It was Phase 3 – the romance.

Throughout their dating lives were lovey-dovey moments all the time. But they were adrenaline junkies and ridiculous romantics at heart. Dates normally go around mountain climbing, scuba diving, bungee jumping, parasailing, you get the picture. Along with meals at the peak of the hills watching the russet rose sunset, supper with the stars, being the astronomy freak Ivan was, Emma will try to impress him by saying the moon is The Big Dipper, laughs & giggles would fill the atmosphere, breakfast with the company of the glistening sunrise. They being the first ones to greet the rising horizon will take second to nothing compared to dining at Tavern on the Green in New York. As he said : “our love travels the tallest mountains, conquers the deepest seas and walk the furthest lands.”

But as months pass by and years came along, when hiking and jogging became nothing more than routine exercise and both of them just started to get bored and soon. Phase 4 – settling down entered their lives and started its own chapter in their book of love.

Emma soon moved into Ivan’s townhouse and both of them have their daily commitments. Since Emma job requires her to work a late shift, she makes breakfast and he has a nine-to-five work regime so he does dinner. Both meals is to be eaten alone, savoring loneliness deep within the toffee infused sweetness from her crème caramel and the hints of deep sea anchovy saltiness of his Mies en Plas before roasting his whole chicken fillet along with the citrusy tinge of fresh greens to their taste buds without their destined half.

All this while, Ivan knew someway or another, at this Phase of life, it is a crossroad between settling down, getting married and staring a family or breaking up and live their separate lives all over again. But, he had no intention other than grow old together with Emma. He’d constantly come home late as he would be traveling miles and miles to her hometown for her parent’s blessings for her hand in marriage. Engagement rings were made and secret meetings were arranged with her bestfriends and family to plan for the moment of their lives. But, little did she know…….

February the tenth, the day to be tattooed forever in her heart, marked their 5th anniversary together. They would normally have their weekly Sunday jogs at St. Evans Park, but instead he told her to go ahead jogging earlier, he distracted her with excuses such as problems with his bowel and misplacing his jogging shoes. But behind those ever so deceiving hazel eyes, he was instead dressing up like a 5year old playing with her Barbie doll with the aid of his and her parents, their close friends and family, all sharing that joyous moment with them. But she didn’t know, on that very day would be a concoction of Phase 5 and Phase 6.

Just when the clock struck 10am, the moment which symbolized the moment she bumped into him 5 years back in history, he graciously stepped out from his townhouse in preparation for that moment. As he made his way across the street, most probably feeling nauseated and light headed from the thought of that 2carat princess cut diamond ring slipping into her long finger….

On the other hand, while she was making the second turn around the corner, she was contemplating his decision while droplets of perspiration further confused her sane mind on whether on their fifth anniversary, he might have completely forgotten about it or even to the extent of ending their 5 year courtship.

But soon enough,

“ BANG !! ”

“ clink…clink…clink…”

These two sounds, combined together at that very moment along with the combination of her scattered and fuzzy thoughts of their future together, aggrandized with glass shattering screams by St. Evans Street, was more than enough to send Emma walking down , or she was jogging, no maybe she was running, alright more of pacing down the pavement to soon realize that the sight before her was a grown man fully suited up, faced down on the tarmac road, almost as if he was floating in a pool of what resembles blood…

‘ man . face down . suit . lying on road . blood pool . crash . RING ’

All these flashed through her mind exceeding the speed of light and soon realizing that her family, her in-laws, her friends were all standing by the foot of their shared townhouse, gapping and had petrified painted all over their faces top what they had just witnessed. Soon, it had hit her, and it hit her hard as tears replaced perspiration soon glided down her peach blushed cheeks, still warm from the jogging has now turn fiery hot, her knees soon fell to the ground as her knuckles covered her face, refusing to accept the fact that it might just be Ivan lying face down on the asphalt road, she made her way, almost crawling towards the man.

It took everything she had to turn his face towards her , every little ounce of courage in her, that string of hope. It was then…Stage 6 – goodbye. No words could come close to describe the feelings running through her hazy mind.

Paramedics, police and passer-by were all there to either witness or provide aid to the tale of a tragic crash or the ending of a love story that would bring romantics to tears. Soon the paramedics rushed him onto a stretcher onto the tiny narrow area in a four-wheeled vehicle, with the sirens up the ambulance made it’s way towards Emergency & Rescue.

The journey was dreadful, by the seconds, Emma could feel every cell in her body was slowly dying away of sorrow, she felt her heart break and crumble into fine powder, as she knew deep down, she was trying to console herself that the truth had been told, written into their chapter of life that it could be the last time she would ever see him again. Faint beeping sounds of his heartbeat was all it took for her to keep her hopes high enough to delude the fact that he’d soon be gone.

As soon as the hospital was in sight, her heart had sunk, till she saw he had his eyes squinted for a taint second. Opportunity in hand, he murmured a few words..


before she could respond, it ended with an

“ i……loveeeee…….y….”

These few words, left hanging, were faint enough with only the heart capable of hearing.

It was then, Phase 6 came to an end, the end to their chapter of life, their story be told. Their first and last dates might be destined to be in an ER. She knew at that instant, even though it was a goodbye never said but “once you start loving someone, you never stop; because it was he who taught me how to love, but now how to stop.” As she gave him one last hug, one last kiss, one last goodbye.

It was written in her journal, read at his funeral, ending her eulogy.
She said:

“I knew looking back at tears will make me laugh; but
I never knew looking back at laughs will bring me to tears.
I’m so glad we had each other in our live cause I know no matter what we’ll
make it through and always have a tomorrow together.
even though now I’ll have to finish this journey alone, but with you forever in my
heart, as in my heart is where you’ll live and I’ll keep waiting till we meet’’

From that moment on, it was the beginning to the end of their love story, told from the heart, as she said hello to goodbye.


by CY

MAY 25 — I actually returned to Malaysia after around 18 years overseas in the United Kingdom. I am originally from the peninsula but have now lived in East Malaysia for the last one and a half years.

Malaysia is in some ways still a land that is blessed by God. It is largely free from large scale natural disasters and its land and shores are rich in natural resources. Sabah and Sarawak are filled with wonderful places to visit and its beaches, rainforests and climate bring many visitors from across the globe. Moreover its peoples throughout the federation are mostly incredibly friendly, hospitable and kind-hearted to locals and visitors alike notwithstanding their race or religion.

Malaysia boleh! Malaysia really can be better. And that is truly why I and other like-minded Malaysians have decided to come back. We can have the tallest twin towers in the world but yet many large towns on the east coast of Sabah have interrupted power supplies on a regular basis.

Needless to say the interior villages have it much worse. We talk about Johns Hopkins medical facilities in the country but yet many district and even general hospitals in the country have inadequate or often poorly functioning equipment.

Our people are keen to learn and gain skills but when our expatriate communities try to come home they are often met with stifling bureaucracy. I personally asked the head of a university department if I could have a look around the department whilst still overseas with the purpose of evaluating if I could contribute at the department on my return. I was told flatly that the department was full and a visit would not be encouraged.

Conversely my request to visit or co-operate with “Ivy league” universities in Europe have always been greeted with enthusiasm. However, on a more positive note my experience has been different with other departments. Unfortunately the former experience has also been reported by other Malaysian expatriates.

The federal government has been talking about cutting wastage. Good idea! Let’s start with middlemen functions that have no or little value added purposes. Why is around three per cent of public hospitals’ drug budget given to companies that simply order drugs, which the hospitals can do themselves. These companies do not make, package or deliver the drugs at all.

Our media talks about Bumiputera rights. However, I hear constant complains from East Malaysian native Bumiputeras claiming that they get fewer opportunities for jobs and government contracts because they are non-Muslims. Where in the federal Constitution does it say that Bumiputeras are given preference based on their ethnic or religious backgrounds?

In Sabah, you will hear complaints from every ethnic group that the state has large communities of illegal immigrants and people who have been given ICs illegally. Our federal government is in talks with the Australians currently about potential immigration co-operation yet Sabah’s longstanding immigration issues remain unresolved. Where are our government’s priorities? Our own nation’s or other’s?

One of the most striking differences on my return that I have noticed is the main issues discussed daily in our media. In Europe, the important issues are mainly economic growth, educational progress, good and accessible healthcare. In Malaysia sadly and significantly more so than in the past, it is about race, religious issues and political voyeurism.

Isn’t our nation’s prosperity, our children’s education and our parent’s healthcare infinitely more important than the colour of our skin or the private lives of our people? Despite the guarantees of religious freedom in the constitution and the respective 18-point and 20-point agreements promising the same for Sabah and Sarawak, our politicians continue to use these sentiments to divide the people and certain paternalistic authorities continue to force their religious views and practices on what should be personal decisions for the people.

Yet “Malaysia boleh”, “1 Malaysia also can” — if we the people of Malaysia whether staying, left or returning — stand up and unite against the divisive, corrupt and intolerant elements of our society and demand that whoever our political leaders are, that they act as they say.

by ES

MAY 18 — I’ve left Malaysia for about nine years now, and lived and worked in several countries such as Singapore, China and, now, Hong Kong.
The past and recent news reports on brain drain have pretty much summarised the reasons for leaving Malaysia except they were not accepted by our leaders. I’ll just echo some of the findings by relating my personal experience.

Social injustice

Unable to get into local universities even with good academic results. Mine was a working-class family and my dad had to work extremely hard to save (barely) enough money to put me through a private college (whose quality could be questioned).

It was a twinning program with an American university. A large portion of our class (100 per cent non-Bumiputera) didn’t end up going to the America for their final year to “twin” with the university because of financial difficulties. Those who did, like me, mostly have remained overseas.

Low income

I did return to work in Kuala Lumpur briefly. My salary was so pathetic I was constantly worried about having to work for 10-15 years before my dad’s investment in my education could be recovered.

Lack of meritocracy

My first job was with a government-linked corporation. We were educated, but quite explicitly some management positions were only given to the Malays. On the other hand, and to be fair, many private companies selectively avoid hiring Malays because of a general perception that they are less competent compared to the other races. Neither the GLCs nor private firms were actively promoting or hiring the best without an implied policy based on skin colour.

Barriers to returning

Today, after over a decade of working, I’ve established my finances, and started up a family in Hong Kong. Returning to Malaysia is not impossible but many barriers lie ahead.

My wife is Korean. We have heard of horror stories about the difficulty of foreign spouses not being able to get permanent residence/citizenship in Malaysia despite years of residency.

Our son was born in Korea. When we approached the Malaysian consulate to register him, we were told we would have to wait up to a year to get a reply. A year to register a child with an uncertain outcome? Something is very wrong.

At the same time, a friend’s construction company doesn’t seem to have any problem getting his Indonesian workers ICs with speedy approvals.


If it’s so difficult to register our son, will he be able to get into a local school? What about quality of education? If I have to take a pay-cut (easily 60 per cent) to return to the country, I’d need to be reassured that quality education can be obtained cheaply (or at 60 per cent discount too).

It’s not very encouraging to learn from the news and ranking of Malaysian public universities that have been on the decline year after year. Will I want to return to the country and repeat the same history my dad went through to put his son to college?

Lack of economic focus

Years ago, this was manufacturing. What about now? What has happened to MSC and the various corridors? What’s our niche? What sectors can overseas Malaysian go back to? Banking? Biotech? Agriculture? Oil and gas? All I hear thousands of miles away in the past few years is some sexual allegations about Anwar Ibrahim.

Lack of positive publicity and encouragement

Every time when we return to Malaysia for holidays or when we meet Malaysians outside of the country (getting very often these days), we are asked not to return by friends, relatives and strangers.

Some even asked us how to get out of the country! Imagine having your foreign spouse hearing all these negative comments about your own country… not to mention, it’s getting easier to meet your friends and relatives outside of the country than in Malaysia.


MAY 24 — I am a Malaysian through and through. I am 45 years old and from a minority group. I work overseas for an MNC which has a hub in KL. I have been posted in the UK for the last three years with a year more to go.

I love Malaysia because it is my homeland no matter what the likes of Ibrahim Ali and Utusan Malaysia say. I guess I am a nostalgic person, too deeply-rooted. I have travelled a bit for my work in the last five years — Singapore, Indonesia, Italy, Dubai and the UK — but when the plane touches down at KLIA, I feel a sense of relief at being back home.

Believe me, some of my Malay colleagues even told me straight to the face that they would rather stay in the UK permanently if the opportunity arose. Most of them have families and their children go to school here.

I admit the education system and almost everything here is better but things will get better at home, I hope! One thing I have always admired about the Malays is their proverb: “Anak dirumah ditinggal, kera dihutan disusu.” For me, the “anak” is Malaysia; the “kera” is the foreign country. It’s we as citizens who have the “susu” and must nurture our country!

It’s up to us Malaysians to change our society. I have no illusions about it. Believe me, I was once a great admirer of Dr M but today I am absolutely disgusted by what he says.

I feel for those who left for greener pastures. I too am tempted every other week but who else can bring about change other than us Malaysians?

Please look at the Arab spring. Are we any worse than them? When I think of my situation, I always think of the padi farmers, estate workers, fishermen, bus drivers, despatch boys and others who have less than me. How do they stay … yes, granted they have fewer or no options. Yet the poor suffer the most! And yet they too want the same thing as us, so who will fight for them?

Today, I admire people like Hannah Yeoh, Haris Ibrahim, LGE, Tommy Thomas, Irene Fernandez, Francis Siah and many more Malaysians who have made lots of sacrifices for the country. They could have left but chose to stay to make Malaysia better, not for themselves, but for others.

This is what we should strive for, a better Malaysia and a better future for all our children. I ask all Malaysians who have left to at least support your fellow Malaysians who remain to fight for the rest of us.


MAY 18 — I am Narayan, aged 44, and an Australian today. I was Malaysian till last year. I moved to Australia in February, 2007. My family joined me in Australia in July, 2007.
My children are Australian and my wife is Malaysian… still holding on to a string of hope to maybe retire in Malaysia.

Why did I leave? Am I a “pengkhianat” (traitor)?

Let us examine it from my family’s eyes.

Economy of the middle-class: In Malaysia as a senior manager in various private sector companies and even in a GLC at one time, I would be paying 30 per cent tax. In return, I could keep a reasonable home 45km out of the city, travel by public transport, have a maid, kids in suburban Sekolah Kebangsaan, need insurance to top up for medical costs, and go to a private hospital each time.

My workdays were 10-12 hours a day, plus/minus travel if I want the kids to go to a private school for the obvious reasons of not growing up with bad English and numeracy skills, not to forget low self-esteem, and my wife would need to work. If she was a stay-at-home mom and tutored the kids, we might overcome some of the issues above.

As an Oz middle-class family: My wife works three days a week as a part-time Montessori teacher, in total nine hours a week. My work hours are 8-10 hours a day. No maid, we do everything we need for our children and she generally takes them to school and comes back home.

I do occasional school trips and some of the extracurricular activities. I do my own garden. I get out a lot actually and enjoy nature a lot. So cooking, cleaning, gardening are not a chore, but rather, different activities that are simulating. My work days are not as stressed with less politics within the company. Do my job, go home, help the kids with homework etc. I even do volunteer community work.

I pay 40 per cent tax, which is returned in good schools, clean political system which has zero tolerance for corruption, good medical services.

I lost some things like a maid, and lower tax system, but have cheaper options of spending weekends and holidays with good parks. In fact, most cities in Australia are all like one long big garden, which is very soothing. You need to be here to notice the blood pressure dropping and other faculties rising.

My kids enjoy school; in fact, they dread holidays in general as schooling is holistic and they have special way of drawing parents in. For the taxes we pay, the returns are clear.

I would put it this way: If my kids did not graduate and bummed around, etc, it would not be because there is no opportunity. The system is fair, which brings me to working conditions.

There is a term called Aussie fair go. This is instituted at every level, where the very language people use are non discriminatory. All positions of power, be it in management or government take discrimination seriously.

Back to my days in GLC, well I even had kowtow to my office boy sometimes because he is from the “special race.” Need I say more? Moreover corruption was rampant, it was obvious and it was even a wonder at that time I got sign offs for the project I was doing.

It is important whilst we do work for money, we also must derive satisfaction of working in a good environment and do good work, reap the rewards of the good work.

I worked 18 years before I left Malaysia, studied in some of the so-called premier institutions and supported my own education right up to MBA and other industry certifications. I know what an uphill battle this is and when observing resources being squandered rampantly, I see too much money, the people’s money which should come back to help people who need it, being wasted.

A case in point, when the Johor floods displaced 30,000 people in 2006, the government took over six months to dispense a few hundred ringgit for each person. At the same very time, there was a floral festival in Putrajaya that cost the government RM1 million every week and went on for six months. Where is the priority?

When we in Australia had the Victorian bush fire and the recent Queensland fire, the action from the public and government was swift. Well if it wasn’t, rest assured the Australians would have replaced the government at the very next opportunity.

Same thing with corruption. In Wentworthville, a councillor was booked for receiving A$200. He went to jail for six months and the entire council was impounded for six months until authorities were sure nobody else was on the take. They went through seven years’ worth of books to ascertain veracity.

A couple months later, Morries Immea lost his job as premier of New South Wales, when the Wollongong council scandal surfaced. It was not the premier’s fault but he had to take the blame as it was during his watch. The point is even though I have only been five years in this country, I am convinced my tax money and others like me is not squandered.

How can I put my family in a country that cannot care for flood victims? The tsunami was another case in point, what happened to the monies collected from the public? How many of the 25 people actually got houses? Has anyone visited Gemas or other Indian communities in rubber estates lately? Check it out. I cite this as it is something I know intimately.

I am sure it is no different in many parts of Malaysia for the Ibans, Senois, Kadazans, and Muruts. In general, the feeling is if you are not Malay, you have no chance. For the Chinese, there is enough private sector support. This may not be true but that is how the message has been driven down.

Any country that does not respect the underclass has a serious possible revolution on its hands.

So, there are many things I can say but this is enough. I have come to the point where even if I need to be a beggar it is better in Sydney than Kuala Lumpur.

Before someone goes accusing me of being a “pengkhianat”, I have contributed by working on a naval project, been on the school alumni board, collected funds and helped across all races; everything a common man with reasonable resources can do to serve my family and community.

I also voted in every election since the age of 21 and encouraged everyone I knew to do the same.

So now I will continue the same actions here where I rate my family’s chances are better. I truly wish Malaysians who stayed back to fight it out and build a better Malaysia all the best.


MAY 24 — I read with interest the many stories of migration published here. I can fully understand why some of these individuals chose to leave the country. It must not have been an easy decision to make as it takes a certain amount of courage and determination to start life anew in a wholly new environment. Having said that, I think it is worthwhile that I share some of my thoughts on why I came back. Granted, I did not exactly migrate, but I had every opportunity to not come back.

I was a student in the United States (sponsored by the Malaysian government, no less). I enjoyed all my classes, made friends with many wonderful people from different countries and travelled across the US.

Suffice to say, I had a great experience and truly enjoyed every minute there. Nonetheless, I decided to come back right after I graduated. I could have stayed back and worked a few years there before I came back, but I knew fully well then that it’d be more difficult for me to want to come back the longer I stayed.

Let me make it clear that I came back not because I had to fulfil my obligations as a government scholar, I came back because I wanted to. The fact is that there is no real effort being undertaken to ensure that all sponsored students come back and serve the country.

But, I digress. I brought that up simply because I wanted to make it clear that I came back fully on my own accord and not because I had a contractual obligation to do so. Anyway, I came back and applied for a job with the government, but was not offered any. I ended up working with a multinational corporation instead.

I was fully aware that I might not get a job with the government when I decided to come back but I decided to come back anyway mainly because I wanted to be closer to my family and also because I felt that it was my duty to come back. Despite the fact that I may not be working with the government, I am at least working here and paying taxes here. And hopefully, the taxes that I pay will be used to build much needed infrastructures or sponsor another well-deserving individual’s education in the future.

Yes, I see all sorts of problems here e.g. rampant corruption, wastage in government spending, low purchasing power, almost non-existent customer service, widespread racism, overly religious leaders and people who harp on religious/moral issues all day while missing the point on all the things that really matter, etc. But that’s exactly the reason why I came back.

How many of us here complain about corruption but will turn around and bribe the next policeman that stops you for making an illegal U-turn? How many of us here complain about corruption but will gladly pay “under-table” fees to some clerk to get your application for a low-cost apartment approved even though you are earning well above the low-income group so that you can then rent the unit out or resell it and make a quick profit? How many of us here complain about racism and yet will go around happily slapping racial stereotypes on every individual we come across? I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

Maybe I’m overly idealistic. Maybe this is an exercise in futility. But, instead of complaining, why not try making a change. Isn’t there a popular refrain from a song that goes: “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change”?

It may not be much and it definitely won’t be easy, but we’ll have to start somewhere, won’t we? If we could all be responsible for our own actions and start making a real effort to understand each other more, maybe, just maybe, we could all make this a better country.

by SETEC, a reader of The Malaysian Insider, currently living in Adelaide, Australia.

MAY 18 — My primary reasons are different from that of most migrants from Malaysia:

1) English as the fist language — I believe English is the language for all; I do not believe in multi-lingualism, e.g. learning Chinese, Tamil, etc.

I think this idea is not anti-nationalistic. For example, English is the first language in non Caucasian-majority countries like Singapore, Zimbabwe, etc.

2) One schooling system — a good majority of people in Malaysia are racists by supporting vernacular and religious schools. Chinese go to Chinese schools, Indians attend Tamil schools, Malays get education at religious schools, and the rest end up in government national schools.

I’m a product of government national schools; however, I’d only support government national schools if all lessons are in English (pre 1971).

3) Conservatism (cultures and Islamic) — the majority of people (and the government) are religious/conservative which inhibit freedom of expression and thus suppress a culture of openness/innovation.

4) Social injustices — a needs-based system is the way to go. The government must end racial quotas and policies once and for all.

5) Higher wages.

6) Better quality of life.

Apologies from thefourlobes for failing to updating thefourlobes you all on yesterday (Thursday). As the previous post, “Just for My Papa” have announced, we are bringing you the posts from The Malaysian Insider regarding the predicament many people faced and their decision on whether to stay in this country, or simply pack their bags and fly away. With this, I give you the first of the series: Why I Stayed vs. Migration Stories. Do enjoy these viewpoints published, and perhaps, make one stand of your own.


Should I stay or should I go?

MAY 24 — To tell you the truth I never envisioned myself working overseas when I first started working, let alone emigrate. So when I was given an opportunity to work abroad, I hesitated.

I half-heartedly accepted the assignment, hoping to return to Malaysia once my stint there was complete. After all, I was to be posted to China, a backwater Third World country. Imagine my surprise when I first set foot in their new Pudong airport (although not as “canggih” as KLIA at that time). The taxi drivers were very courteous, they used their meters and were readily available anytime of the day. As I was driven to downtown Shanghai, I was amazed by the level of development and advancement. I kept asking myself, “Is this really China?”

Fast forward five years. Yes, five years. My original stint there was only a two-year gig and since then I kept on renewing my job permit to continue working in Shanghai. And why is that? Here are my answers:

1. Living standard is better in Shanghai

You can get practically anything in Shanghai, from designer stuff to local fare. Better security, cleaner streets, excellent public transportation and excellent housing. Albeit the living cost here is a bit higher than in KL but then again the adjusted salary suits the environment. Unlike Malaysia, China has a minimum wage law and it is adjusted yearly according to the yearly inflation rate. The only thing KL has better than Shanghai are private hospitals (too many fake private hospitals in China).

2. No discrimination

No discrimination to any foreigners. All are free to come and go and work here in China. With my skin colour and language skill, I practically can blend in with the locals. As far as I know, there are over 50 ethnic minorities in China, and the government is actively providing protection for them. Free housing, free medical and school and a lot of other goodies. But in Malaysia, it is the other way round with the government protecting the majority and discriminating against the minority.

3. Capitalism baby!

Well, you may say China is communist but like any practical Chinese, if the system is faulty, tweak it until it’s right again. They realise all ordinary people want are personal security, housing and the ability to earn a living. They abolished the old communist ways and gave birth to capitalism, communist style. In fact they are more capitalist than America today.

New jobs are created, new economies are born and this gives birth to new wealth for the masses. Foreign countries like to invest in China because there are no barriers to doing business in China and of course the lower labour cost (though higher than Malaysia, dollar to dollar). There are too many requirements and disadvantages against investors doing business in Malaysia.

So how does all that translate to a normal wage earner like you and me? Well, it means it’s easier to find jobs and opportunities here in China than back in Malaysia. And they pay well too for my skill. Can I say the same back in Malaysia? Here, my chances of striking it rich are 10 times higher than back in Malaysia (business ventures, of course).

So what’s the verdict? Should I stay or should I go? (music)

It is hard for me when every time I come back to Malaysia, my relatives advise me not to stay in Malaysia. It’s even harder still when every time I “lepak” with my friends all of them are discussing about preparing an exit strategy from Malaysia.

For the time being, I’m holding my verdict. I’ll continue to work in China while watching Malaysia very closely. Even if the government doesn’t like me and treats me like a “pendatang”, though we live in a country with a broken system, this my home.

After all, Malaysia is “tanah tumpah darahku.” I have faith in our people (Malaysians). See how the old Soviet-era Communist China has been reborn into a new China, stronger and better. If they can do it, why can’t we… or can we?


I’m fortunate to have a dad like you.
You’ve worked harder than the ants each day
“Never give up,just pray.” you’d always say
Crushing obstacles that block your way
Cheering me on for my exams in May

“I’m scared,” I wailed.
You simply brushed my stray hair aside
Braved the long roller coaster ride
With me screaming by your side
I’m thankful,your ears survived..

Full of surprises,you are.
You cheer me up when my feelings drown
We sat together munching down
The best potato chips in town
Mum stood watching us with a frown

So much to say,so little space
Though I write no “Invictus”
My cooking quite ridiculous
I thank God your love is boundless
And that you’ve finally got yourself a pair of glasses..


Update on the Second Public Announcement: thefourlobes will from now on publish every Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and to make sure this can happen, thefourlobes will ‘import’ stories and viewpoints from two special columns in The Malaysian Insider, which is the “Migration Stories” and “Why I Stayed”, to give you some perspective and hopefully an idea and a stand of your own on whether you would stay on or move out from this country.


thefourlobes is glad and proud to received it’s first work from a contributing writer! Without further ado, thefourlobes presents, The Poem for Tonight by anon.

The Poem for Tonight

Under the dark curtains of the night
Where the mundane children of the light
Were tired and filled with appetite
But the haunting children of the night
Through the darkened sky had taken flight

Under the stygian cloak of the night
Slumber fluttered gracefully light
Careful to avoid candles so bright
Whispered to children deep in sleep quite
Reciting the poem for tonight

Under the deathly veils of the night
Hypnos flows subtlely into sight
Meadows of flowers dance in delight
A malevolent horse full of fright
Dreams are but dreams of an abstract site

Under the somber wings of the night
The children drifts on in Nyx’s might
As Age continues his solemn plight
And man continues their futile fight
Under the heartless gaze of twilight

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