Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thinking About: Migration

...most of us are still here in Malaysia because of family and loved ones. I’d like to believe that family still comes first in the hearts and minds of most of us. I work in the hospital where death and dying is a daily affair..

Thinking About: Migration

I am an immigrant in this country.

So are the rest of us except the orang asli, the sole community who can rightly claim to be the original citizens in Tanah Melayu. Ironically, the orang asli are the only ones who don’t seem to be debating the issues of illegal immigration, constitutional rights and division of the economic pie among the people of Malaysia.

Migration is an inherent feature of nature.

Animals migrate, usually in large numbers in a unified manner and to a destination each never discussed with the other but which all agree upon. From the monarch butterfly to African locusts to various migratory birds and reptiles and fishes, migration is a neverending cycle in the animal kingdom.

The initiating factors for animal migration are many. It could be due to external pressure – the radical changes in one’s original niche that makes survival and propagation palpably unfavorable and incompatible. In other organisms, migration is simply innate and carved into the specie’s biology. Many migratory birds travel in relation to the cycle of enlargement of their reproductive organs in spring and their reduction in fall.

Human migration is not much different. When great numbers of a community uproot and leave in an acute manner, it is termed an exodus. An exodus is typified by the journey of the Israelis out of Egypt into the Promised Land.

It matters not whether an exodus was premeditated or impromptu. Its end result is almost always a diaspora. This is perhaps where the similarity between human and animal migration ends.

Whispers and thoughts of emigration have been more audible recently among Malaysians and very much so among my colleagues.

There are so many reasons to stay in beautiful Malaysia and so many equally strong ones to give up on her.

These days, almost every other family I know has at least one next-of-kin somewhere in a foreign land – frequently Australia or UK but most commonly Singapore, if one considers the Lion City a truly foreign land in the first place. Some made it there because of pre-existing family fortunes while some are there because their dedicated parents saved for a lifetime to get one in the family into a more promising land. Then of course there are those that left the nation on a juicy government scholarship and never returned ever again.

Not everyone is mobile, however. In fact, perhaps it is more true that the people with more reasons to leave Malaysia are the very ones who can’t leave.

Many can’t leave because of finances or rather, the lack of it. Migration requires money and lots of it, depending on where one is heading to. Without a job, a home, a family or friends and relatives in a foreign land, one had better prepare enough cash to last a few months ready to starve or beg and steal and borrow. We do not need to look far. Even the Malaysia My Second Home program requires one to be in possession of RM 150,000.00 before one is eligible to reside in Malaysia as a permanent resident. How many of us have that amount of money?

Some can’t leave because they are unwanted. Will any country accept a person who is physically and mentally challenged into their land? Will any government take as their citizen an adult with uncontrolled epilepsy or a child with Down syndrome without an accompanying guarantor? It’s not an issue of compassion or humanity or morality. It’s all about being practical. Every country wants to recruit citizens who can contribute to the nation’s economy, except Malaysia of course – the BN government gives great priority to empower uneducated and unskilled and crime-prone immigrants. Anyway, the state of one’s health will always be under scrutiny in consideration for immigration into popular destinations like Canada. If you have ever contracted tuberculosis or have features on chest x-ray to suggest so, you might as well forget about moving into Australia and the United Kingdom.

As a doctor, I can easily find a job in a country where my degree is recognized. In fact, I have already received a job offer from a renowned Singaporean institution which I have pretty much rejected for personal reasons. Skilled personnel in healthcare, engineering and information technology are always in demand and sought after. However, it is the opposite that mostly applies to most folks. In a competitive world economy, the country that succeeds in luring valuable human resource is more likely to triumph over the others and vice versa. Most nations place enormous emphasis on ‘skilled immigration’. These include Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Japan but not Malaysia. The point is, some folks simply can’t leave because they do not fall into the category of ‘skilled and educated’.

In the early days when Lim Kit Siang first started his blog at the now defunct, he was asked if he would ever consider emigration from Malaysia. The honorable then parliamentary opposition leader replied that Malaysia is his birthplace where he was born, bred and grew up in. He further added that regardless of whatever happens in the future, he will live and fight and die in this homeland called Malaysia. Few of us are so optimistic and valiant and altruistic.

Chinese Malaysians are perhaps more notorious for cowardice masqueraded as pragmatism. For decades, they supported a running dog MCA at the expense of the DAP for fears of a racial or religious retaliation. A change of government could have taken place back in 1999 if not for the massive swing of the non-bumiputeras to the Barisan Nasional.

Anyway, can anyone really blame Chinese Malaysians for being seemingly less nationalistic and enthused about Malaysia, being Malaysian and dying for the motherland? It's really hard to be inspired to feel, talk and breathe Malaysian when one is threatened with bloodshed by the Malay keris year after year and being told to get back to China if one is unhappy with the Malay supremacy concept of UMNO.

Suffice to say, patriotism and optimism do not rank among the reasons for one’s staying back in Malaysia.

I feel however, that most of us are still here in Malaysia because of family and loved ones. I’d like to believe that family still comes first in the hearts and minds of most of us. I work in the hospital where death and dying is a daily affair. Every other day or so, an elderly wife would beg the doctors to preserve the life of her critically-ill husband for just a few more days so that a son or daughter can be back in time from a land far, far away. Personally, I don’t see a point being great and successful and flushed with money while neglecting one’s responsibility towards one’s family.
Once again, as Stich said, “This is my family…. It's little, and broken, but still good."


Jason said...

You have a good point. Said out very well what we are all going through at this difficult time.

Sojourner said...

actually, Lilo said that...

Product of the System said...


I stand corrected.

Don't think Stitch said anything throughout the movie except towards the end.

Anonymous said...

With enough money you can move ur family. Also, dun want to sound harsh but family also tends to die off.....As I've found out... :(

CK said...

unless u hav the money to move out everyone in the family...
but again, elderly normally tend to stay put.
again , it's not an easy decision to make...

Anonymous said...