Tag Archive: Why I Stayed

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.



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 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.

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?

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