Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

A Reader's Commentary on Migration

Written by johnleemk on 4:57:40 am Mar 22, 2007.
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"vokoyo" wrote a long letter in response to Migratory Patterns: Structural Problems and Lack of Opportunities. As I have nothing to add to his (or her) excellent remarks, I will simply reproduce them here in full:

Migration and emigration of human beings is a pre-requisite of human progress and development. Without migration, human beings would be doomed to an existence worse than that of animals. Even animals migrate to seek a better habitat.

Patriotism is not a one-way thing, it is a two-way commitment. If one finds that one's loyalty and patriotism is not reciprocated as having to live with a corrupt government, discriminatory policies, inhumane and repressive laws etc, one has a right to review one's commitment and patriotism if one so chooses.

Why would people stay if their talents are not recognised in their own country and they do not have the opportunities to develop their potential? Why remain when they can have these opportunities in another country?

Indeed, it is very fortunate that we all live in this day and age of globalisation where we are free to live and work anywhere in the world as long as we have the skill and talent.

There is much less reason now to put up with bad governments, or corrupt, oppressive and racist regimes, anywhere in the world.

Of course the grass is never greener on the other side. You still need the same energy, enterprise and sometimes luck to make it. But there is no doubt in my mind and in those who have worked here and overseas - the playing field is more level abroad.

Whilst, I may add that most lower middle-class Malaysian citizens and professionals are the main bulk of immigrants to countries abroad. They need to get settled first and have a few contacts to start life anew.

To expect them to be millionaires in businesses will take a generation or more and we are beginning to see that now. If they had not emigrated, they would have been hard pressed to send their children abroad and everybody knows the quota system for universities, jobs, job opportunities and promotions back home.

In Canada, we experience the best there is in life. Every citizen has equal rights. They have done well in every aspect of life.

In the US, anyone whether black, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Mexican etc, has the right to run for president. There are no restrictions, one only needs to secure the votes.

Nobody should operate under the assumption that migration is a bed of sweet, smelling roses. Roses have thorns.

Certainly, migration is not a dirty word. In fact, migration is the reason for this multiethnic paradise I call home today. The question is, can Malaysia retain its talents?

We are simply losing good people to the more developed countries, and this problem is also faced by other countries such as India and China.

Singapore has been absorbing our talents regardless of the medium of instruction they have been taught in.

Perhaps the biggest slap on our face is the fact that thousands and thousands of Malaysians have been recruited to bloom in the Lion City's workforce, while our own industry leaders have done nothing to help the government keep these investments from going abroad.

Many people leave the country for a variety of reasons. Some leave for economic reasons, some for better education, some over concerns for the climate of democracy in their home country.

There is no reason to deride any migrant for their choices in life. Every human being is entitled to the right of physical, social and geographical mobility - you seek your place on earth and call it home.

So leave if you must, go while you can, but don't give up on the march. That is a worthy sacrifice that requires courage.

Congratulations to those who have found a better future in life.

As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote, the world is flat. It's thanks to this flattening that we're here today — that I'm here today. Because we're free to roam, the opportunities for individual advancement are greater than ever before.

The question is, which country will be able to secure the best individuals? Malaysia's solution to the brain drain has been to sit on its hands. And that's why I fear my children will not grow up as Malaysians.


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Infernal Ramblings is a Malaysian website focusing on current events and sociopolitical issues. Its articles run the gamut from economics to society to education.

Infernal Ramblings is run by John Lee. For more, see the About section. If you have any questions or comments, do drop him a line.


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