Friday, March 14, 2008

Migration Vs Loyalty

Today Ive just spoken to a friend. Knowing this friend for 2 years now, he has always mentioned of his 'Australian dream'. This Malaysian, like many others, have furthered his studies overseas, and in his case, Australia. He then came back to Malaysia, worked in Singapore a while, but somehow he missed the lifestyle that Australia offers.

He will be part of the figures that tally to Australia. Already, last year there were 3838 Malaysian migrating there (Source: The Sydney Morning Herald).

Now, firstly, I think Australia is a beautiful country. Its big and huge, lots of greenery, very fresh air with many wide open spaces, and most of all its Western. This is of course quite a stark contrast to Malaysia.

Well Malaysia is also huge to one extend, and is very beautiful - just look at our number of tourist arrivals. However, it fits into the Asian mould - South East Asian mould to be exact. That may not seem so cool to some - and I'm not just saying the weather. Besides, Malaysians don't travel around the country that much apart from visiting the major cities. Hence, the perceptions by Malaysians on Malaysia is usually not 'a wholesome one'.

This 'brain drain' doesn't only happen to Malaysia. In a report by Channel News Asia, it mentions that Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in an interview with the United Press International (UPI) has said Singapore is facing a 'pretty serious' brain drain problem - losing about 4 to 5 percent of the top 30 percent of its population every year.

What could be the reasons people are migrating abroad? What has another country offer them that their home country don't? There are many pull factors as just mentioned, a change in lifestyle and working environment, and maybe also the paycheck, which when converted can be a lot of difference - my friend mentions that he is offered 4 times a higher salary in Australia now, taking into consideration the exchange rate of 1AUD = RM2.98! This friend who may take 10 years (not counting his previous income) to become a millionaire in Malaysia will now only take 2.5 years to do so.

I'm sure there are also quite a fair bit of 'push factors' - whether in working environment, family relationships, or on the local environment. In Singapore, the complaints heard are usually it's very restrictive or rather boring, despite Singapore being one of the top nightlife places in the world!

So, the grass is always greener on the other side. And in a huff and puff, my friend has made his decision to leave beautiful Malaysia.

The next question to ask is - is migrating a form of disloyalty? I guess this is an open debate. Some will definitely say a strong and resounding Yes. Some of course will say No - especially those who have left. Now, by the Festivals held abroad eg. Malaysia Fest in London or NY with huge Malaysian supporters, maybe they are right about them still loving the country.

My Own Experience
I myself have been questioned before, though I'm only based across a tiny Straits Of Johor. Though I travel frequently to KL and Malacca on business, but some have raised the issue of where I am based and my loyalty.

For me to answer this question, it is without doubt that my heart still belongs to Malaysia. Sometimes friends have always said 'Wah, this Malaysian da*n loyal one lei'. This is usually in response they mentioning something or making a statement about Malaysia that I don't feel right.

Or even when I'm with a group of other citizens in a foreign country and the native ask 'Where are you from?'. It would have been easier to just follow the crowd and nod what they have mentioned. But, this loyal Malaysian will not, and sometimes although it's only me alone, I still say I'm from Malaysia! lol :)

I will always be back in Malaysia despite traveling or being based elsewhere. And I'm sure I'll continue to do works on & for the country. Already, I have 3 projects dedicated just for Malaysia - Batik Inspirations, The Malaysia Page and now 50+1 Malaysia. That could sometimes raise questions by my friends - like why I'm being based in Singapore doing work on Malaysia. I guess, it takes one to be abroad to see that the grass is greener on the other side!

My opinion may not represent all Malaysians abroad, but I'm sure many feel the same as me. That their first love - is and still will be their homecountry. In this case, Malaysia :)


  1. first of all.. nice entry!!

    well.. i think maybe in ur fren's heart, he will always remember malaysia and it is still his first love despite the need of him migrating to another country..

    i would choose to think this way that maybe there is a priority ranking on wat a person wants to achieve, mayb for him, he has other dreams that he wants so badly to have a glimpse of it and australia seems to provide a good ground for the process.. and so being patriotic is not as important anymore...

    or maybe one day if there is something going on, he will still be standing on malaysia's side..

    come to think of it, our great grandparents had migrated from china too.. and don't know why, i just don't feel like standing on their side.. i think we malaysian chinese truely have a complicated life style and history.. or can be just said as unique.. haha..

  2. hi streamliner

    you've raised a gd point - that our forefathers came from china too - for greener pastures, or like to call it 'the nanyang dream'.

    and yes, agree that in the end, people go where the heart is and most comfortable :)

  3. I am a very practical person and I am not good at inspire.

    Yr friend has a big pay raise when he moves over to Australia. It is the place that gives you the most earning during your most productive time.

    It is the same with our forefathers and China was extremely poor with many pple could not find a well pay job. Many of their migrants died on the way to Nanyang. It is a choice of filling their empty stomach or waiting to die at poor home or ...

    I am sg and it is the choices available to sg that we move to Greener ... List downs the benefits for Sg versus PR versus WPs.

    Btw, the sg aunties cannot find jobs at our coffeeshops are moving to Australia wineyards to work as fruit pickers.

    Sg government is typical whimsy pple like its pple because they refuse to have a reality checks done.

  4. well,great entry.i feel wat u mean. i'm feeling the same way too.been residing abroad for almost ten years and my heart is still in malaysia.missing those nasi lemak.sipping teh tarik on rainy day at mamak.jokes with friend of multiracial background without hidden agenda in mind.its just unique.everybody enjoy food,laughing,karaoke,saying lah,hahha..i just smile avtimes i remember home.but no worry i'll b home soon for place like home.and i realise one will be more patriotic when their abroad then being home.


Oh hey, thank you for commenting! :)