A drone speaks

Feeling a little down today. Things are changing so much at my company, and not really for the better.

Have always been the kind of person to look at the silver lining and try be upbeat about things, but today I felt the sting of being an underappreciated, overworked automaton more keenly than usual. Was given a RM200 increment. Yes, pathetic. While a colleague got promoted to a more senior position. We were equal in rank before.

It bites because I’m being asked to do more and yet am only given RM200 more for my trouble. And recently, one of my projects was given to another person, and now I’m under this person. And I wasn’t even told about the change. The powers that be as usual just assume that I will play along like a nice little coolie.

And I can only shake my head and wonder how long of this I can take. The other day a friend of mine expressed horror that our pay is so low. I’m horrified myself, thank you very much.

So I’m looking more and more at Australia as some kind of escape from my situation. It’s not exactly a healthy way to see things, I know. I mean, Oz has its own set of problems, and I most probably will not hold the same job … but yet, psychologically my mind is hopeful about Australia. Perhaps a change of environment and challenges is just what this overworked drone needs.

That, in Australia, at least, they appreciate you a little bit more and don’t work you like cattle. I hope.

Well, my friends do say that they are treated better at their workplaces in Oz than in Malaysia, where people are often exploited etc. So I do hope it’s no myth. But I suppose it’s always best to keep expectations low.

Okay, I need something to cheer me up. Heading for the snack bar, people. I hear the Kit Kats calling….

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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.

Malaysia is losing its young

brain

I’ll say it again and again: The brain drain in Malaysia is accelerating.

My family is a micro reflection of the trend. Nearly all the young people in my family have gone. Recently, another cousin of mine said that he’ll be joining me in Adelaide as he’s putting in the papers. In a way I feel comforted as I will have a few relatives in Australia now, and one in Adelaide with me. But I worry about the older people in my family.

Then, if that’s not all, my best friend’s brother and wife are thinking of going to Britain to work.

And I thought to myself: So many are leaving.

A colleague of mine told me how she reconnected with friends via facebook and remarked that so many have since emigrated. She told me about a doctor, an established surgeon who worked overseas, who returned to Malaysia to serve but was forced to return overseas because he simply couldn’t support his family on his RM1000+ pay.

Malaysia, what are you doing? I can only say that you’re stupid for treating your young this way, by depriving them of their rights, by arresting them for protesting and for desiring a better life, and by legitimising racism via racial quotas for education, job opportunities and by allowing politicians to hurl racist epithets on almost daily basis.

Your young are fleeing because of the racism and the lack of political and insome quarters, religious freedom. Do something before it’s too late. But I suspect that it may be already too late, and may take some time to reverse.

Other articles:

  1. Million-Malaysia brain drain
  2. The Malaysian brain drain

Anti-ISA marches

protestsTo my Malaysian brethren overseas, please spare a thought to Malaysians over here who are fighting for our civil liberties. Spare a thought especially for those marching in Kuala Lumpur right now to protest the ISA. They are doing brave work.

Judging from the twitter updates at #antiISA and #isa, disabled people are being beaten, kids are arrested and police are turning their might against people they’re supposed to protect instead of criminals.

Things are quite bad in Malaysia – spare a thought for those back home. Speak up and dont ever forget to vote when you have the chance in Malaysia!

Live coverage: Anilnetto, Malaysiakini and even The Star.

Photos: EdgeMalaysia

If you live overseas, don’t crticise Malaysia!

It’s not kosher, apparently, to criticise your country when you’re living overseas.

I’ve been reading George Lee’s letters in Malaysian Insider and was amazed by the vitrolic response. His letter is an account of why after 17 years working in Malaysia, he decided to make the big move Down Under.

His first letter, Why we had to leave, evoked harsh responses:

But many Malaysians choose to stay and sacrifice their comforts (by not running away)to ensure that the future generations have a better life in Malaysia. Those who stay, for me are true Malaysians despite all the odds, they stay and contribute to make changes no matter how small it can be.

said one commenter.

And that’s one of the nice ones.

thumbsdownFor some people, leaving Malaysia is considered a traitorous act. Go enjoy life there and shut up! They say to folks who live overseas who dare to criticise how things are in Malaysia.

In a way, I understand. I was in their shoes before. When my siblings and relatives began leaving, and when they said how Malaysia is ‘hopeless’ and it’s time to go, I really resented them because by saying that, they’re almost saying that people who live in Malaysia are in a hopeless situation. Because we still want to keep on hoping that Malaysia will turn itself around.  Or else, what kind of future do we have?

There they are enjoying in the freedoms in the West, and leaving us behind to to suffer the indignity of life under a corrupt government. How dare they crow about how good life is over there??

And let’s face it, Malaysia is corrupt. We recently made it to the blacklist of human trafficking countries for goodness sakes. We’re side by side with countries like Zimbabwe! And the government’s response? Denial.

But some of the commenters have a point. Some people who live overseas are armchair critics; all they do is sit in their comfortable armchairs in a land of freedom somewhere and criticise without doing anything to help their Malaysians back home.

(George Lee also has a point, and I think he has the right to criticise because that’s how he can get involved with the democratic process, but that’s a topic for my next post.)

There’s a lot of things overseas Malaysians can do to better things in Malaysia. I think one of the most powerful things expat Malaysians can do is to return for the 13th General Election and vote. (Because, heinously, the Malaysian government doesn’t allow overseas votes. Most probably because they suspect these expat Malaysians would vote a big fat NO to BN.)

Not everyone can be an activist or a Raja Petra. But we can certainly exercise our right to vote. And that’s what I’m going to do, wherever I may be then!

So if you’re unhappy about how things are in Malaysia, vote, damn it! Time your yearly, bi-annual, whatever sojourn to Malaysia to coincide with the 13th GE. Do it for those you left behind in Malaysia. Instead of reminding these folks in Malaysia how much their life sucks, do something to help them instead. We will all appreciate it!