Migrating: it’s not about us versus them.

I eavesdrop. No, scratch that. I actually do partake in many conversations, real and virtual, but the number of conversations I listen to or read without making any comment is by far greater than the number in which I do say something. Most of the time, people don’t even realise I’m listening, intently in fact, because I must have this clueless, “dumb dodo” look about me.

Which brings me to what I’ve discovered: a disturbing number of negative comments from some (I said some, not all) Malaysians on their countrymen who’ve migrated. Aussies don’t seem to mind where other Aussies move to – after all, people move according to need and economic circumstance – but Malaysians take this “outflow” most personally.

Comments range from, “If they like that X country so much, they don’t need to come back ever again” to “I’ve been to X country. It’s nothing great. They don’t have A, B and C.”

Excuse me, hello? But do you own the country? Of course they don’t have A, B, C. That’s because they’re a different country. People get on well enough without the things they supposedly lack, I can assure you. Meanwhile you’ve got your panties in a bunch because you think (and this is you thinking, just me saying it aloud) that I must think I’m so smart and so grand to have packed up and left. Again, it’s what you think. 

Do you see what I’m saying? It’s your assumptions that have upset you and not my actions.  Me leaving or having left is about where I feel I’ll be heading with society and the economy the way it is. It is in NO way an indictment of the people who still call the country home. I, personally, respect my fellow Malaysians decision to stay on or move abroad because their decision, one way or another, is not a reflection of my relationship with them. My own decision to migrate was made after careful consideration of my wants and needs.

In fact, you should look at it this way: Malaysians out in the world are carrying the Malaysian flag on their backs. That’s why the world knows who we are! It’s like when people talk abut Jimmy Choo; they say he’s Malaysian-born. Or when they talk about Australian Senator Penny Wong, they say she’s Malaysian-born too. Or (and I’m sure those from the Malaysian opposition are going to be pissed off by such a reference) when people refer to Michelle Yeoh, they refer to Malaysia in the same breath.

Really, no one would know about Maggi or Asics or Selangor Pewter or any of our many “treasures” if we hadn’t sent them out into the world. Human beings have the potential to carry the Malaysian “brand” further and wider. I, for one, think I should be on Malaysian Tourism’s payroll for the amount of promotion I give the country. While we are at it, I should be paid by Aussie Tourism board too, for the number of posts I’ve written on Aussie culture, food and scenic attractions.

For this reason I find it hard to stomach the vitriol surrounding migration and the countries my fellow Malaysians have migrated to. To me, there is no need for “us versus them” type comments, posts or discussions. We all have free will so each to their own. Like I don’t mind people telling me about the many new developments in Malaysia. Even though I’ve migrated, I’m happy to note improvements in the efficiency of the public sector and new services available for issues not previously addressed (eg. a fund for couples seeking to use IVF or welfare measures for single mothers). I’m thrilled to know that our hospitals can cope with the delivery of high order multiple births and that Malaysia now has magazines on new stands for people like myself, not just the single girls.

However, to me too, one must have a deep and abiding inferiority complex if every second word is about how you are better than the next person. From personal experience, I can tell you the next person doesn’t give the matter all that much thought. It’s like how the Kiwis are always slagging off the Aussies but the former still come here to live in droves. For every one thousand comments Kiwis make about how poorly Aussieland fares in terms of rugby or social services or what-have-you, only 1 comment is made back about them. Why? Because Aussies simply don’t give a toss.

Similarly, Malaysians wagging their fingers at their compatriots who have move to Singapore or Australia are missing the point: we aren’t talking about you in the negative. Until this post at least.