Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Credibility Costs of Malaysian Emigration

Written by johnleemk on 1:23:29 pm Apr 6, 2007.

tangkee notes a comment I made while discussing restrictions on freedom of speech:

"Oh, well. It's not going to be my loss if I don't return, although I will miss the place."

dude ,said things like this only weakens your position.

This is actually a classic example of an ad hominem attack on credibility. Contrary to common belief, an ad hominem argument criticises the credibiliy of the argument's source, rather than the argument itself.

To address this issue, a simple thought experiment I recommend is to imagine that the source of the statement in dispute is actually someone with different (and presumably better) credentials. Would this change in source alone make a previously false statement now true?

Obviously this thought experiment only works for statements of fact, not opinion. But if it turns out that, let's say, I plan to emigrate, does this suddenly invalidate all my opinions about the country? Does it make everything I've said here wrong? I don't think so.

The problem with Malaysian migrants losing their credibility in the eyes of Malaysians who stay at home is nothing new. It's actually something I've addressed before.

Nevertheless, it's an issue that I think is worth highlighting again. Expressing a desire to migrate, or being a migrant, does not in itself invalidate any opinions about the country. If there are problems with the original argument, critics should be more than welcome to point them out — but the source of the argument itself should rarely, if ever, be an issue.

Anyhow, I see no point in beating about the bush. Emigrating is surely something that has occurred to many Malaysians, especially talented and frustrated ones. Why deny it? Should I pretend that I am not considering emigration as an option in case this country tanks?

Whatever the case, it's not even clear to me why a Malaysian's credibility should be perceivedly lower if he intends to emigrate, or does indeed migrate. After all, we are a land of migrants (even the Malays' ancestors came from Sumatera). Migration is a natural part of human life.

From young I've been encouraged to think of myself as a citizen of the world, and to an extent, that's how I see myself. But I'm also undeniably Malaysian, because this is the country where I was brought up. No matter where I go, I will never forget this country, because it's permanently imprinted itself on my memory and character.

With this in mind, it's difficult for me to see why Malaysians who emigrate should be seen as unreliable. There are a few wags who clearly have a bone to pick with our country, but most Malaysians who do emigrate are like any other Malaysian — they love this country in their own way.

If anything, the criticisms of migrants and potential emigrants should be paid particular heed. People do not simply pack up and leave the place where they were raised up without a good reason. It's prudent to look into the causes of migration — why are people leaving the country?

In any case, I urge readers to draw their own conclusions from my articles, without reference to my own personal life or decisions. I may or may not emigrate — I myself don't know, and it's a nerve-wracking decision. On the one hand, there's tremendous opportunity overseas, and I will free myself of the frustrating circumstances in Malaysian society and politics. On the other hand, this is my home — it's where I was raised up. It's what I know best, it's where my friends are, and I can still make a decent living here, so why migrate?

Whatever decision I eventually make is not relevant to you, dear reader. What is relevant is your own conclusions and thoughts after reading my own opinions. I have strongly-held views, but I don't impose them on others. Make of me what you will — but it's not my personal decisions that matter, it's the big picture that matters. And the long-term outlook for this country isn't pretty. We must either fix this country now, or doom ourselves to seeing our best and brightest slowly flow out.

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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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