Category: Views and Observations @ Parietal Lobe


When I was young, I have always dreamed about going to other countries. And
yes, I hated my life in Malaysia. Life was so hectic back then and there’s just
too much stress to handle. Sometimes, I even wish that time would just pass by
sooner so that I can leave this country for good and start a new chapter of my life
somewhere else. But all those thoughts started to change when I first landed in

When I first came to Australia with my family, I was overwhelmed by how
friendly the people are. They never ceased to make me smile. They would simply
just smile at you whenever you walk past them, which show how friendly they
are. That’s something that you don’t get to see everywhere, including Malaysia.
I still remembered once, when I was at the cash register getting ready to pay for
the items that I purchased, the cashier was very friendly and asked, “Hi, how are
you? Did you have a great day?” I was kind of surprised that she would ask such a
question since I just came here for only a few days, so I was not used to their so-
called “culture”. So, I hesitated for a few seconds, and then replied, “I’m fine. Yes,
I had a great day today”. Somehow, I felt a sudden warmness in my heart, and
that’s something that you can’t find anywhere else but here in Australia.

The 13th of February, which is also known as Orientation day, I went to the
college accompanied by my family. When I first stepped into the campus, I was
stunned to see how beautiful the campus was. All I saw was an old church,
old building with a unique Western architecture, as well as tall green trees
surrounding the campus. I can definitely feel the tranquility and serenity
surrounding me. On the first day of Orientation, I was very fortunate to meet
many international students whom come from different countries. I was kind
of surprised that there are many Malaysians who are also studying here too. At
first, I thought I would be the only Malaysian who’s going to be studying here but
I guess I stand corrected. There are also many students who come from different
countries such as China, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia,
Sri Lanka and many more. Since we had 2 weeks of Orientation, thus I had the
opportunity to meet more new friends as well as getting to bond with them.
Throughout those 2 weeks of orientation, I had a great time making new friends,
as well as having fun playing games, as well as learning new things. It was indeed
one of those memories that I will never forget.

2 weeks later, lectures and tutorials finally began. On the first day of class, I have
to admit, I was very nervous. I was hoping that the lecturers here wouldn’t be as
strict as they are back in Malaysia. To my astonishment, not only the lecturers
here are friendly, but they also have a great sense of humor. Sometimes, they
would share some jokes just to brighten our day. It definitely makes 2 hours of
lecture less boring than it originally was.

Yes, classes have been great, but not everything turned out to be great. Not only
does studying abroad means studying in overseas, but it also means leaving
your home country, leaving your love ones behind, including your family and

friends. In my opinion, I think that is one of the biggest sacrifices I have to
make. Honestly, I can’t describe how much I miss my family right now. After
staying with my family for nearly 18 years, I feel so much closer to my family,
but now that I am here in Australia, I can’t spend time with them anymore. Yes,
phone calls are one way to communicate with them, but it just doesn’t feel the
same. Sometimes, I wish I could be there with them physically, instead of being
thousand miles away from them. Deep down inside my heart, I know my parents
want the best for me, and that’s why they sent me here, so that I can have a
better education. I think one of the toughest things I have to deal with is being
independent. Yes, my mother used to cook dinners for me, but now I have to do
the cooking, and not to mention the house chores too. Now I realize how hard
cooking is, and began to appreciate everything my mother has done for me. I
guess being independent is part of growing up too. Furthermore, I miss some
of my friends back in Malaysia. I made so many true friends there, and leaving
them was the worst part of all. As one says, “A friend is one who believes in you
when you have ceased to believe in yourself.” I am truly thankful to have such
wonderful friends who stood there by my side when I really need them. I don’t
think I can ever find friends as good as them.

Honestly, I am very grateful for everything God has given me. I am so thankful to
have such wonderful family and friends. I feel blessed to be able to study abroad
because I know that not everyone has that opportunity to do so. I promised
myself that I would cherish every moment and be appreciative for what I have.


My UK Life

by Foong Jia Vei

I am writing this while travelling around in United Kingdom. Hopefully, I will have more fun doing
this like that than it already is. (:

Honestly, coming to United Kingdom for further studies was never my idea. The original plan was
to go to Australia one or two years after our beloved Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia. I argued well with my
parents, but I still gave in at the end. It was as if I suddenly I wanted to be away from all that I have,
to know how strong I can be, and foolishly chose to leave everything that I love. So, it wasn’t really
any strong passion or dream that drove me to this decision, but persuasion, advice and something
my mind randomly decided to do.

The first blast of cold, pricking winter wind was when the administrator from my school helped me
to push the trolley with my luggage, but at the same time forgetting about my winter coat that I left
on the handle. It was nothing much at first, but when I reached Northampton, where it is ALWAYS
colder than London Heathrow, I really wanted to stay indoor the whole day. That night when I was
trying to overcome my jetlag and fell asleep out of exhaustion, I thought I would die. I really didn’t
know how to stop shivering. Fortunately, it somehow did. But who would have imagined, not more
than two months later, I am picking up and throwing snow at others in a snow ball fight. Really, the
weather in United Kingdom is rather nasty. Sometimes, it is so warm that I really wondered how I
would survived back in Malaysia, sometimes it is so cold that I hoped for Malaysia’s sunshine. That
somehow, was quite inconvenient for foreigners like me, because I just decided to leave all my warm
clothes locked up in my boarding house and it is currently freezing out here ._.

Somehow, I still do feel like sleeping in front of the teachers, even when there are less than 10
students in each class and the teacher can always notice me. I have also been told that since we
are doing A-Level, we should not rely on teachers and textbooks but more on how hard you work
for it, and how you inquire about whatever that was unknown and not understood. For me, it was
kind of troublesome, because it meant that you should never slack. In small groups, teachers tend to
notice you more, so you can never run away with bad marks. For my college, the teachers each write
a report to our personal tutor who discusses the surfaced problem and also send the same report
back to your parents. Other than that, I know that the students who came here to study always
work harder than they used to, because they actually realise how much money and hope their own
parents had put in while sending their children to a faraway place. So even if they party hard, they
DO study hard. Oh and of course, the partying part is still a secret from parents.

I am a quiet person, and it was always hard for me to get accustom to new environment and make
new friends. It is actually a relief to me to have more Malaysians for our batch this term. I have to
say that it is hard for me to mix with students from other courses, especially the Europeans. In a
way, we live our own lives, walking on straight paths without interacting. Maybe, just a small smile

when we meet each other inside the boarding house. So far, a few of the Hong Kong AS students
(First year of A-Levels; those doing 18-month A-Level course are known as ASJ – AS January-intake)
are very kind to me as we always talk to each other in Cantonese, and they helped me a lot in my

When I first arrived at London Heathrow and Northampton, I was so tired that I never really paid
attention to the new environment. It occurs to me in a way that I don’t feel like I left anywhere or
already at a new place. Other than being colder than usual, having a different house to live in, mixing
with different group of friends, and studying in a different place, nothing seemed to have changed.
At some moment, I felt like I am still in Malaysia, going to go home anytime soon. It was until few
weeks ago, while I was waiting for my boarding house to open (It closes around 8.30am and opens
again at 4.00pm during weekdays), I Skype-d my friend, and showed him the surroundings of my
school and the big, spacious, breath-talking Racecourse (The large spread of greens with many hills
and playgrounds and basketball courts and able to fit many football fields, positioned in front of the
boarding house that provide us meals), I heard ‘Oh my God, your place looked so classical and yet
so beautiful, I really envy you!’ Then, I realised how the sky is actually has a nicer shade of blue than
what I used to see, how the blossoming flowers coloured the streets, how hot air balloons give the
Racecourse a bit of excitement, how the stars shine each night, and how I really love this place that.

Honestly, I don’t miss home, at least not until I have something I want to share with my mother
a lot, not until I meet up with problems I hoped to have someone to face it with me, not until…
(I got distracted, the view outside the train is too beautiful; houses like box matches with smoke
puffing out of the chimneys and broad, wavy roads) From what I see, most of the Malaysian Chinese
students got really homesick during Chinese New Year because it is such a big celebration for them.
One of my friends brought new dresses over to wear during Chinese New Year, just to have the feel
of it, and also loads of Chinese New Year snacks. Lucky for me, she brought too much so she could
never finish it on her own, and had to share them with me! We had a celebration together with the
rest of the ASJs and with some of the A2 seniors for ‘tuan yuan fan’. It was not something really
memorable, really. But at least, we had a little something, so as to not forget our origins. (There are
big flocks of clouds and sheep outside my window!)

United Kingdom is an awesome place; beautiful scenaries, shopping paradise, all kinds of nice food
and bar, convenient transportation and nice weather. Unfortunately, it is nowhere cleaner than
Malaysia. Rubbish that can be picked up will not be seen a lot, but those where you can’t, realised
that you will be stepping on them every day. Even when you have a large field with nice and green
grasses, noticed that every one brings their pet to their place, so you know what to expect.

To conclude all the random things that I have put in here, this place is a nice place for travelling
around or staying for period of time. The people here are mostly nice and helpful, even when their
difference in accent in every part of the country is quite obvious. Throughout my stay in the United

Kingdom, I have yet to experience all the specialties in this country. Even though I am still quite
determined to go back to Malaysia after all the studying and apprenticing has ended, I might want
to come here to stay for a short term once again. Well, who knows? Everyone and everything might
change in the future, so we shall see then.


Recently, the whole country is in a certain mood. Rallying mood. But not everyone is not having the same feeling about it.

Among the masses, there are still remnants of the first Bersih edition, which means they will support Bersih yet again. Some newbies are attracted to it. Others just feel that rallying is not a solution. The remaining ones are the pathetic people influenced by controlled-mass media and propaganda.

The government, well, let say they are paranoid after the first gathering in 2007. They cannot meet their demands, and hence view Bersih 2.0 an enemy to them, a threat. But they cannot afford to have an extra enemy, with their hands full when dealing with Pakatan Rakyat.

Pakatan Rakyat on the other hand, would probably wanted to become the hero of the people and justice and other things along with it, so they give their support to Bersih. (Well, I use the word “probably” because maybe they really mean it to demand electoral reform.)

The government sees this as an opportunity to strike and use their resources to the fullest. They are now linking Bersih with the opposition, and claiming that Bersih has its political agenda and it’s not really an NGO that is truly “clean”. On the other hand, the police are taking various actions-arresting people associated with the yellow T-shirt, or with the event, as if they are terrorists or national threats.

I don’t see why holding Bersih holding its rally is wrong, since PERKASA which against the norms of society can have their rallies, since the Bumiputera organisation in Pulau Pinang that hold the rally today which obstruct traffic is not arrested nor any actions taken upon it.

Let’s say if the tables turned, and BN is the opposition, I’m pretty sure they would oppose PR just like how PR oppose BN, which also includes joining Bersih if PR didn’t conduct any electoral reform.

That’s of course, is quite hypothetical.

But a way in another, the Bersih rally does not violate the constitution; the arresting and inappropriate actions taken by the authorities is quite unconstitutional, as the  Article 10, Clause 1 Paragraph b states: “all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms”. I don’t see any Bersih protesters holding rifles or shotguns.

Bottomline: Government shouldn’t view it as something wrong. No one knows how long does the dominance would stay.

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.


UPDATE 27/5/2015: The new Atria Shopping Gallery, developed by OSK Property Holdings Sdn. Bhd., is opening on May 28, 2015. The following post is an eulogy for the predecessor, Atria Shopping Centre.

For those who are not informed, The Atria Shopping Centre in Damansara Jaya will be going has gone into oblivion by on 26 July 2011, as the latest owner, OSK Property Holdings Sdn. Bhd. will be demolishing has demolished this iconic building for redevelopment into a 2 15-storey office blocks and 4-storey shopping mall which equipped with 2 floors of basement carparks.

Even the deadline given is one month away, many tenants have moved away, and more to end their businesses by the end of this month.

Why the sudden emotions about this old suburban shopping mall? Why is it worth writing for? Well, my eulogy is just about to begin. (The following was written as of June 2011.)

Continue reading


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.

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