A former Malaysian speaks up

I didn’t plan to write more about “why it sucks to be in Malaysia” but I stumbled on this comment in a blog post by a Singaporean about the Malaysian brain drain situation and found the comment really sad and moving.

Here it is:

* Ex-Malaysian in USA
* January 16th, 2010

I don’t normally contribute to blogs but you guys have indeed touched a raw nerve. I was a Chinese Malaysian. I love Malaysia and will always do. I came to the US ~20+ years ago to seek higher education (that’s right – my SPM/STPM results weren’t good enough to get me into a local U because I was a Chinese Malaysian). It obviously was very very frustrating to me. It was not my choice I was born a Chinese Malaysian. Nobody asked me what race I wanted to become before I was born, but I was punished for being a Chinese… something that was not my fault or even my choice. If Allah offered to convert me into a Malay Muslim; hence a bumiputra, I definitely would have taken up the offer. But it was a curse no one could break. My best friend who was Malay with lower grades entered the very local U that rejected me. I recently met him on Facebook – he told me that he was too ashamed to contact me all these years because of that. I took comfort in knowing that, and he will forever be my best friend.

If Abdullah and Budakmelayu are reading this – please imagine for a moment yourself in my shoes. When it is happening to you… when you are denied of something as precious as education because of the color of your skin, it is very very personal. No matter how much I tried to understand the historical perspectives of bumiputra status, no matter how much my brain understands it, my heart still felt the injustice, which was very overwhelming, because it was very personal. Everytime I had homesick or even when I miss Malaysian food, I was reminded about the bumiputra system. I attended a university with many MARA-sponsored Malay students – they all owned superbikes like Kawasaki Ninja (most probably paid by the Malaysian government too). They would zoom pass me when I walked home from work at night I had to work as a janitor, and even illegally off-campus as a waiter and other odd jobs to support myself through school. I thought to myself… I probably have better grades that those Malays too, but I had to clean the toilets while they enjoyed their superbikes because I was unfortunate to have been born a Chinese Malaysian.

Now ~20+ years later, I am a proud US citizen, and raising a family in the US. I remember when I was sworn in as a US citizen, the officer said that there is no such thing as a second class US citizen; there is only ONE class of US citizenship… I immediately had goose bumps all over… I told the guy who was sitting beside me that I was becoming a US citizen for this very reason; because I didn’t want to be a second class citizen. I am also quite proficient in Mandarin now and feeling very proud being a Chinese American!

My personal story is one of many. I have a group of 30+ Ex-Malaysian family friends here with similar stories of their own. I have had many years to reflect on this issue although it is still mind-boggling to me how much of the bumiputra system has impacted my personal life, my being away from my parents to study, live, and finally settle abroad to raise my own family. I am not angry at anyone. I am writing in this blog simply to share my personal story. Most government policies have no impact on us but when they do they could have a very profound and personal impact. Though not always the case, mine was definitely a blessing in disguise. I am doing way better than my Malay friend in Malaysia, emotionally (yes, pride!) and financially (don’t mean to brag here). I can tell my personal story proudly as a professor to aspire engineering students; I doubt my Malay friend can do the same. Peace.

It’s so sad. I see his story repeated so much in Malaysia. I felt this bitterness quite early too. I was a very ambitious child, so when I found out that I may not be able to go to local universities because I am not of a certain colour I was filled with rage. At the age of 12.

This stupid, racist policy is also affecting Malays; I’m sure there are many good people out there ashamed about the policy.

Ah, but I’m going blue talking about stupid people. Wherever you are, say a prayer for our poor country.


2 thoughts on “A former Malaysian speaks up

  1. 20 years down the road, we may also be blog hopping and writing similar stories 🙂

    but then again, 20 years from now, malaysia may be a totally different place already. and i didnt mean it positively.

  2. Hi..yes, it really saddens me because Malaysia has so much potential but governed by potato-heads and we have lost so many local talents because of this discrimination. However, I recently caught up with a KL-lite friend who was visiting and I asked her what her plans are..as half her family had already migrated to OZ.
    Her answer was different…hers was “my husband and I have decided to make a stand and pray for Malaysia that things will change, and how can we make that stand and interceed if we were not in the country?”. I thought her answer was mind-blowing because it is so out of the norm. I did think it was inspiring that my friend, her husband and the group they belong in are choosing to pray, interceed and continously asking God to bless Malaysia and praying for change.

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