Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Migration, the Answer to Discrimination?

Written by johnleemk on 1:55:46 pm Jun 9, 2007.

Recently, I noticed an interesting phenomenon when it came to my articles on Malay supremacy (the latest such article being this). As you have probably noticed, to keep this site running, I run a number of advertisements from Google.

Google uses algorithms to scan the page where the ads are being shown, and thus determine what kind of ads to show. Interestingly, on many of these articles, virtually all the ads were for emigration agencies to countries like New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

Clearly, a lot of people decide to migrate because of Malaysian apartheid. Or do they? Just as he disputes that Malay supremacy is something the non-Malays should be concerned about, Bakri Musa has suggested that those who cite discrimination as a reason for emigration are disingenuous at best and malicious liars at the worst.

Bakri also has harsh words in his book Towards A Competitive Malaysia for those who migrate because of things like vernacular education. There I can't really disagree with him; I personally think the education system as presently structured fractures our society, and I also don't think it plays a major role in many people's decision to emigrate.

However, for ketuanan Melayu, I'm not so sure. Bakri says that the main reason Malaysians, including himself, migrate is because of a lack of opportunities for competent people to fully maximise their potential in Malaysia.

I fully agree with Bakri in this regard — if I ever migrate, I think that would probably be the main reason for my decision. But I think Bakri is engaging in a bit of cognitive dissonance when he says that this is the real reason non-Malays emigrate, and not apartheid.

After all, surely at the minimum, Malaysian apartheid is a contributing factor to a non-Malay's decision to migrate? Are you going to tell me that if these non-Malays were treated as first class Malaysians, they would still have migrated? Of course there are many who still would have, but I think there is a statistically significant number who would have stayed.

In the first place, as Bakri notes, even for Malays of calibre, opportunities to have this talent recognised are scarce in Malaysia, where all incentives are geared to cronyism and ass-kissing rather than hard work and enterprise.

If one is a second-class Malaysian, a pendatang asing, would there not be even less opportunities? Wouldn't the impetus to migrate thus be greater?

Anyone who disputes that non-Malays have less opportunities clearly has not been paying attention to how things work here. I know of a Malaysian academic who once worked at a prestigious foreign university, and was willing to accept a pay cut to return to work at one of our local flagship universities. He was rejected outright, and told up front that it was only because he was of the wrong skin colour. Are you going to tell me this man isn't going to want to migrate, at least in part because of this?

Even non-Malay Bumiputras have it hard. A former Higher Education Minister once promised no non-Bumiputra would ever set foot in Universiti Teknologi Mara; less than half a decade later, I have Indian friends studying at UiTM.

However, apparently there is still discrimination in the admissions process! These Indian friends were on a government scholarship; however, a non-Malay Bumiputra friend of mine wanted to apply for admission to UiTM, paying his own way. The admissions officer told him outright that as a non-Malay, he was not eligible to apply, and not to waste his time.

Are you going to tell me there isn't going to be some impetus to migrate because of things like this? Bakri is absolutely right in that people migrate because of better opportunities elsewhere. But when you deny opportunities to a certain class of people, it's simple logic that this class of people will have a greater desire to migrate than others.

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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.

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