Three conversations recently that got me thinking:
1) “A lot of my friends are really thinking twice, they’re really thinking about leaving,” explained my brother. “Maybe 5 out of my 50 classmates who’ve gone to study abroad have come back to live and work in Malaysia.”
It’s not hard, if you’ve been following the mainstream and online news with any regularity, to see why such sentiments persist. Far-right movements like Perkasa (right- or far-right is only a matter of perspective, I would suppose) are surely making vocal claims about their place in the country. For some Malaysians, the lack of equally vocal – or more likely concerted – opposition from civil society on the shenaneeganeerings of Ibrahim Ali et al maybe indicates the lack of willpower to fend off such feisty commandeering of the nation.
“Even those who’ve lived here a long time are starting to think again,” he reveals.
“Are you thinking of leaving, too?” queries my dad.
“Hmm, I don’t know…”
Silence. And then, from my dad, serious: “Maybe you should consider opening up a business in Australia?”
2) On board an aircraft a few days ago, I bumped into a middle-aged Malaysian named Brian on his way to Sapporo, Japan, to oversee some family business there. He spotted my Malaysian passport and near the end of the flight asked me what I was doing in Japan. The interesting thing was that Brian and his family moved to Australia (where his Malaysian wife acquired PR-status) a few years ago. He explained that the main reason he left was because of his son’s education.
“I wish Malaysia had a more equal educational environment,” he lamented. “I live in Melbourne now because I just wanted the best education environment for my son – he’s not getting it back in Malaysia.”
Yet I asked what made him keep his Malaysian passport. “There’s still hope. Things are looking difficult right now, but I have family in Malaysia and I’d still like to come home.”
I asked if he would consider coming home, and what obstacles are there to such a decision: “(The Malaysian) educational environment, the economy, and politics.” Seems fair enough. I suppose if we can start fixing these areas, many who share Brian’s sentiments will start looking at
3) The silver lining: an architect friend remarked not long back that maybe the “Malaysian diaspora” is perhaps a good thing.
“Imagine, all these Malaysians are living and working abroad… If we begin to fix the problems that made them leave, imagine all that experience we’ll be bringing back.”
Now, if you’ve left Malaysia, would you like to share the reasons that made you leave? And what would make it possible for you to come back home?