Tuesday 21 July 2009

Migration: A case of running from something, or running towards something

Warning: Relatively long read…

I have always wanted to blog about this topic but somehow, never got around writing it. However, after such an eventful week, I guess the time is right to finally pen my thoughts.

Migration, moving to what is perceived as the greener pasture, is a dream to some. But at the same time, it has its fair share of critics. And, it also boasts of a relatively worrying amount of “failed attempts”, forcing some to return to their original country with less money, and wasted time. It is a daunting thought.

In my zewtpinion (wow, it has a long time since I said that), one has to objectively establish one’s true intention in making this leap of faith. To really see whether migrating is a wise or foolish decision, one has to ascertain whether one is running from something, or one is running towards something.

Impartially speaking, the critics are right. No one can confidently say that one will definitely be stepping foot on “greener” pasture. “That country is also racist”… “You will be a second-class citizen there”… “You think they don’t have such problem there?”… such are the usual rhetoric. In all honestly, they are absolutely true.

Hence, here is where I am of the zewtpinion that if you are migrating to run away from something, be it racism, marginalisation, corruption, inequality or outright brutality, then you are most probably going to hit a hard wall. These evil realities of our human race are everywhere. Perhaps the magnitude may not be as high, but they will be there nonetheless.

Therefore, if you are leaving this country simply because you want to run away from “things happening here” (I do not need to list them, I am sure you know what are they); your migration plan will most probably fail. And a typical Malaysian critic will deem that you will also be running away from the wonderful nasi-lemak, char-kuey-teow, bak-kut-teh, mamak, etc. as if those things are the elixirs of life.

As such, the running-away route should not be your approach if you want to migrate. Instead, you should clearly establish what you are running towards, clearly identifying what are the things that you are seeking in the country you want to step foot on. And this is how I approach my migration plan.

Most of you already know which country I plan to move to. While I may not entirely run away from the ruckus that is happening here, I know I will be able to find the things that I seek in that land. And the things that I seek include…

People and govt work hand in hand for the preservation of the environment.
A police force that I can trust.
A public medical service (though slow), that I can trust.
Measures or projects implemented by the govt that actually work.
Qualified and accountable ministers, where a slight indication of any mistakes or abuse of power, the minister will most probably resign.
Very much less pressure to save like hell for my children’s education.
With good grades, entry into world class university for my children is almost guaranteed.
Fresher and cleaner air most of the time.
At 6 p.m. on a weekday, chances are my boss will ask me to go home instead of asking me to attend a meeting… which will be held at 7pm.
Confidence in public administration and almost everything else --- this is a very interesting point and will be explained greatly in another post.
Newly added – knowing that the sanctity of my religion will not be ridiculed.

If I am to sit down and think further, I will probably add more to the list. But I guess you know where I am getting at. In effect, you should not be migrating to run away from problems. Rather, you should migrate to seek for solution. And to achieve this, one must then exercise discernment as to where one wants to migrate. One should be certain that one will be able to find what you are seeking in the land you are going to step foot in.

There are however, some cases where people move to another country to run away from unhealthy emotional attachment or unpleasant emotional memories. Perhaps in those situations, such running-away acts may be justifiable. But that is not the notion here. And even that, such may also be cases of people seeking better memories.

And no doubt, there are other factors to consider such as availability of jobs and genuine inability to adapt, which is indeed, very real. And that is probably why I am still here, the issue on availability of jobs. But once one has addressed this issue, one can then do a running from vs. running to reflection.

In all honestly, there are some elements of “running-away” in my case, but not because of what is happening now but rather of what I think could happen in the future. This is a result of knowing too many things, things that I can't really share. Perhaps that is a story for another day.

Last but not least; yes, you will forever be a second-class citizen. But I would rather be a second-class citizen in a place where I can enjoy most, if not all of the public benefits; than to be a first class citizen here and… well, let just not go there…

1 year ago…
We just can’t do it


Tsu Lin + + said...

A very long, but well-writen & "factual" piece of work, Zewt! It's good that you have put it in point-form and hopefully those who are seriously considering this option can use the poinst raised as guidance.

Good luck to everyone!

leyaw said...

Just do what u think is the best for your future

blackjack said...

i hope people who always criticise migration will read this post and make an objective judgement about it.

but they might be stubborn and bring in patriotism, that's what happen when you put up a good argument.

good work zewt, you always do.

doc said...

it's true that evil exists everywhere, even in, say, australia where members of a chinese immigrant family was recently brutally murdered. given the current circunstances, one can't but help feeling that this murder will (probably)get a fair & thorough investigation, compared to Teoh BH's

people will still want to migrate, if they can, perhaps because this would be lesser of the 2 evils.

Anonymous said...

just go...forget the critics....most importantly, do what makes u happy.

some ppl derive happiness from staying on...fighting...knowing they have tried and contributed to whatever development their country achieves..

some derive happiness from enjoying fruits of better governance.

so the conclusion is that ppl operate differently and one should always do whatever makes him/her happy...there is always 2 sides of the story. one side..u are the coward...the other...those who stayed back are stupid...

Jools said...

I'm submitting my docs soon for migration for my whole family. The process of compiling the docs was very painful and it took 1.5 yrs as I am applying with a parent and I need docs that proves dependency. Many a time I had wanted to give up and cave to the voices of well meaning relative ( most of them chiding ) but again n again our govt screws up, thus reminding me constantly that there is no other way but to leave..... For sake of my children and my sanity. I will continue to persevere. At the end of the day, God decides if I get this or not. Heck at least I can say that I tried....

Crankster said...

I ran into Pastor Sivin Kit awhile ago and for some reason I asked him if he knew you.

It's strange that your reasons for moving would be the same as mine.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to run.

I believe I can make change happen.

But I don't have the courage to stand up and speak out. For fear of what will happen to me and my family.

All I can do is use my voting power, for what its worth.

I'm open to suggestions on how I can make CHANGE happen under the above constraints.


Ronaldo said...

Over there they call you second class citizen but here, despite being born here, they call u "PENDATANG"

Tiuuuuuu....What logic is this?

Anonymous said...


don't you always say? once eat roti canai and nasi lemak, all the things that you are seeking for are no longer relevant. not meh?

EYthinksmaybethirdclass said...

what makes you think you're a first class citizen here?

TG said...

Funny, you try to move out from M'sia, I wanted to migrate there... :P It was that sort of migration when you fall in love with someone from another country and you both decide where is the best to be. I have a strong hayfever here, but in M'sia I have no problems. That was a big plus for me, since I suffer like 3-4 months here. Plus the lovely people I met, her big big Chinese family, the lifestyle... everything seemed tempting for me. But I'd have to give up some freedoms I enjoy in my country, which is a good democracy... that bothered me a little, but I guess I'd just adapt like ur citizens, just don't say anything, don't criticize. I read newspapers there and everything's always great.

Well, in the end, we broke up and it won't happen. Maybe some cultural differences were too big. I don't know. It's a pity. But better before I moved than later.

Well.. I don't know where you want to emigrate, I'm new here. Can you give me a hint? Aussie? :)

I think you put it really well. Long post but very worthy to read. I wish you all the best and hope you make it. Maybe you'll open my eyes and I will have a different view on M'sia, my dream country :P

WY said...

zewt, i have given much thoughts to this. i have the luxury to get residency in nz rather easily, and the opportunity to go anywhere in this world with my current qualification and work skills.

Yet, i keep coming back to this one question. What am i? I am struggling with the question of identity. I keep behaving like a Malaysian - reading Malaysian news, passionate about everything Malaysia....and yet, i am as much as a Kiwi as many other locals here. I can easily emulate and "pretend" to love the local culture, but in reality, i don't. What do i do? Disintegrate myself from this new country, and remains recluse to my own kinds (Malaysians).

Migration is not just switching to a different country. It is about giving up your past, your culture, your friends, your identity and..many other intangible aspects. [which explains why our chinese/indian forefathers are so passionate about maintaining their culture].

Eventually, you will just be another bloody aussie, and for you know, you don't even like cricket and footy. What then? what's next?

I am glad you have found an answer to the question above. I am still struggling, and still harbour hopes that perhaps..just perhaps, our country will have a better future.

tulipspeaks said...

i never thought of migration prior to this, zewt.
but the things u just said are so true. u have just planted some new thoughts in my head now.



Aoki said...

Fuyoh, finally you came up with this entry! Spot on!!!You've basically sum everything very well :) Can i pop by your place to visit you and julia in future? The air tix are getting cheaper and cheaper? I'm planning and preparing my migration too ;)

Anonymous said...

I believe in moving only for the right reasons and not just as an escape of what's happening back home. Racism for example is universal. It's not confined only to a particular country.

HappySurfer said...

Hi, Zewt. Emigration involves serious consideration. Sometimes it can mean jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Sometimes, the grass is indeed greener on the other side. But who knows until one is there?! Dare one take the plunge to find out? A plunge that involves uprooting oneself and spouse and children, not to mention the financial resources involved? Availability of job is not to be forgotten. Don't mean to sound so scary, but emigration is serious business, a life-decision, if you will. My two cents.

Psst... life is too short. Hang loose..

Crankster said...

I've never met Zewt in person, but I think he's done his homework and explored all his options.

And yeah, I'm one of those jack-asses who will bring up the issue of patriotism. Perhaps not patriotism per se, but a sense of belonging. But you'll adapt eventually.

It's just a shame to lose talent like that. What's worse is it's always the smart ones who leave. The idiots remain and that's what has happened to this country.

iamthewitch said...

Zewt, you spoke my sentiments very well indeed. Wish you best of luck in getting a job! :)

Rene aka Servant said...

you've just answered my question. :)

i wish you all the best in your decisions.

Jorji said...

should i stay or should i go..

i like what tomatoinc said.

aku pun tak suka apa yg berlaku sekarang ini di malaysia..
aku tak tahu apa dan siapa yang aku perlu percaya.

i have no choice but to ignore everything.

Anonymous said...

mei teng,

i want to bang you here because i cant "bang" you in real life. hehe.

i think you should read zewt's piece again. racism exist everywhere. you are right. the very fact is ppl of the same kind flock together. its just inherent. its no accident that your best friend is of the same race although u have friends from other races. what zewt cant stand is poor governance and affirmitive action policies. he divorced malaysia. and we must be prepared to skewer him if he ever returns for good....hehehe

Ice said...

You think and analyse too much lah, my friend. To me I am running away as well as running towards something and always something there. It's an action and reaction. They go together, that's the "Law of Nature". I have to say it definitely work for me.

As for being which class of citizen, it does not appear important to me. Once a government is elected, everyone is treated equally in the systems/society BUT might not be equal in the workforce.

As for those lovely food, what you gotta let go you gotta let go. That's life. There is always something new awaits you. Let say fresher and cheaper apples and grapes. They are definitely healthier than nasi lemak. Am I making sense?

Again, stop thinking too much :o) Just have to put that thoughts into action. Not to be afraid of the unknown.

Yvonne Foong said...

Poor Xewt. You must have been so shaken by what happened last Thursday because you haven't been writing like this for the longest time!

Forme,it's the universal healthcare system that I will be running to. With my healthcare taken care of, I can be free to do many things like concentrating FULLY on gaining knowledge and furthering my education. Right now, I can't committ wholly on anything because my need to raise funds is always at the back of my mind. Sigh.

zewt said...

Tsu Lin - i just want to share what is truly in my mind :)

leyaw - dont we all :)

blackjack - should we be patriotic to begin with?

doc - one has to consider other things... was the family brutally murdered by certified murderers? or certified... i am sure u get what i mean.

anon @ 21/7 10.30pm - well, the most important thing is that you dont be coward AND stupid :)

Jools - and you have my best wishes in getting that craved visa... it's priceless!

Crankster - so it was you. and yes, patriotism is a factor for consideration but... somehow, it's only applicable in sports.

zewt said...

anon @ 21/7 10.41pm - you believe that you can make a change but you dont have the courage to speak up... that's a lose lose situation mate.

Ronaldo - the logic is in the nice nasi lemak and bak kut teh :P

anon @ 22/7 12.32am - indeed.

EYthinksmaybethirdclass - what makes you think you're third class?

MKL - i think you answered your questions there... if you have stayed here long enough, u will realise that the limitation in your freedom to speak up and all other restrictions will begin to eat you up. that's how things become not so rosy. new land... oz it is.

tomatoinc - i know what you mean, and i feel sad about it too, to lose all these wonderful culture. but at the end of the day, cultures wont put food on the table, cultures wont protect you from harm, cultures wont support you if you fall down from building... and, what makes you think we are sure of our identity here?

tulipspeaks - glad to do that :)

zewt said...

Aoki - i told you i will write about it eh? :) yes yes, all is welcomed :P

Mei Teng - thus, one should be moving towards something :)

HappySurfer - when one is jumping furiously on a hot frying pan, one will just jump.. whether to the fire or somewhere else... it doesnt matter :P

iamthewitch - thanks...

Rene - and your questions? :P

j or ji - harap harap, kita dapat duduk bersama-sama minum teh tarik tengok MU hantam liverpool sebelum saya belah.

anon @ 22/7 4.55pm - mate, u should control yourself a bit :) hmmm... i can say one of my best friend is not of my own race though... :P

Ai Shiang - it's a big move, i am with a wife so i cant help but think much. if i am single and available, i will be off already :P

Yvonne Foong - and hence, you should head to a place where taxpayers' money are properly channelled to the welfare of taxpayers... right?

TG said...

Maybe you should read these posts from Jerine. I thought Oz is like this great place, but maybe not for Asians. They have some serious issues with racism. On the other hand, which country doesn't have? I don't know, never been to Oz, but it's good to get a sober image of a country, before you move there.

WY said...

Hi Zewt,

You are right. Identity, culture, friends and family don't put food on the table. It won't prevent you from falling from the MACC HQ. It won't stop racist PEKIDAs members throwing racial abuse at you.

But it gives you a home. Our forefathers took a long time to settle down in this country, and so many identity clashes before we have what we have today. Even so, we re not truly Malaysians yet (despite what we feel). Could you imagine the fate upon your sons/daughters, and the sons/daughters of your sons/daughters?

I am one of those who tend to think too much - my weakness. But alas, i am also an optimist. I have yet to given up hope, but alas, each to his/her own. I wish you all the best in your emigration and the settling down. Truly do. You are right - running away is not a solution. Look for something to run towards to is certainly the only way you can placate your inner demons.

myop101 said...


i am praying hard my plans would succeed. then i will be home free. i don't need to worry about borders.

but i will not leave...not just yet... in time, but not just yet.

Maverick SM said...

I too don't mind being 2nd class citizen if I can feel safe and secure.

Anonymous said...

believe me, ur children will thank u for making the right decision.


Anonymous said...

haven't u had enough of this shit and do u want ur children to be treated the same.

worst of all u are paying them to be treated like shit.


LJ said...

I'm a Malaysian who has lived, studied and worked in New Zealand for a few years, and I have found that the grass is indeed greener.

This is a small country with a big heart, and courageous enough to make sure that all grievances are addressed.

A case in point would be former Prime Minister Helen Clark's apology to those of Chinese descent for past injustices: http://www.stevenyoung.co.nz/The-Chinese-in-New-Zealand/Poll-Tax/Helen-Clark.html

I have found New Zealanders to be warm and open and welcoming, and their sense of ethics and civic responsibility strong.

I have never been made to feel like a second-class citizen or even a first-class citizen. I have only been made to feel like an equal citizen. I am not given anything less, nor am I given anything more.

And I believe that's the crux of the emigration issue and why so many Malaysians fail to integrate.

Back in Malaysia, they were the kings and queens of their domain. Yes, there was unfairness and corruption and pollution, but at least it was familiar territory. They know how to play the game and work it to their advantage.

But if you come to a country like New Zealand, you immediately lose your status and privilege. Your Malaysian knowledge counts for nothing. You become a true equal, and you can't just swindle someone into becoming your sleeping partner just to worm your way into a government contract.

Equality has its price -- the willingness to start from zero.

So the Malaysians who have the best chance of integrating successfully are those who study, graduate, then move straight into a job in the new country.

That way, you are not likely to feel any loss of status. Believe me, Malaysians still value 'muka' very highly and that's the stumbling block to emigration.

Crankster said...

Zewt, have I got news for you...

... from Najib.

Methinks he's a bit clueless, but I could be wrong.

Melody said...

I have worked and lived overseas a number of years. There are pros and cons both in MY and there.
You'll find racism everywhere.
Though life was not bad, yet I decided to come back because I miss my family.
Do what you think is best for you. Many migrate because they think of their children's education and their future. However bear in mind that it's a whole different culture overseas. If you start your family there, be prepared that your child will adopt western values to blend in. I am not saying Asian culture is superior. It's especially obvious when the child is much older.

Ice said...

Hahaha! I understand that :o). I moved with a husband as well. I was the main applicant because my husband's occupation wasn't in demand at that time.

As long as you can still eat and breath, you will be fine.

Besides, you won't know until you try, right?

Perhaps your concern is only about job? If you are willing to start from zero or maybe what your employer thinks you best fit into. Just accept that job if offered.

When I had 1 year work experience, since it was just 1, I didn't mind starting from zero when I moved to New Zealand.

After 6 years++ of work experience in NZ. I can't find a job in Sydney in private practice, because the experience and system I knew mean nothing to them. I was prepared for that so switched to commercial, got 2 offers in 2 weeks. So, started from zero again.

I have a friend who got the PR but already at "Director" status in Malaysia. He is not willing to lose the status so making that move is almost impossible. I think I will see his PR expires before he even moves here.

I hope that's not your case, or is it Zewt?

eiling lim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zewt said...

MKL - you have been really lurking around malaysian blogs eh? :)

tomatoinc - yup, in life, it's all about decision. you cant have the best of everything. but the thing is, you dont even have the best of something here, at least that's how i feel. like i said, i am not that afraid of things happening now, i am more afraid of things to come.

myop101 - you have my best wishes...

Maverick SM - precisely.

anon aka kehoe - damn right about paying to be treated this way... damn right.

LJ - wondefully treated. yes, so many malaysians, when i asked them about migrating... they said, they dont want to start all over again. they cannot not be manager. it's all about face, and that will be their downfall.

Crankster - he can do whatever he wants for all i care.

Melody - i know what you mean, just that i weigh the survival and safety much more than culture. and besides, do you think malaysians are really preserving their culture here in malaysia? check out how many youngsters now who refuse to speak their mother tongue and only want speak english. and how many have absolutely no idea about their own culture. seriously, culture is disappearing in malaysia as we speaks.

Ai Shiang - hahahaha... i am not a director yet so it wont be so painful. no worries, events happening in this blardy country continuously remind me of the need to move and continuously reminding that if i dont move, i might just end up dead, literally.

LJ said...

tomatoinc, if New Zealand is causing you grief, you can always give up your residency and return to Malaysia. That will actually free up a spot for another needy immigrant. There's no point being in a country where you can't even be yourself. If you are passionate about Malaysia, you should go back and fight for a better Malaysia.

TG said...

Lurking around Malaysian blogs? These are ma peeps, Zewt. Been lurking around Jernie for a while now, hehe. Now it's you. I stick around good blogs and Malaysians are great bloggers ;-)

taxy said...

"Some" is an understatement. I think "All" is more like it.... cause all you've mentioned, are just one side of the same coin.

People and govt work hand in hand for the preservation of the environment.... translation: Its polluted here.

A police force that I can trust.... translation: I don't trust the police here.

A public medical service (though slow), that I can trust.... translation: The doc couldn't even catch, "my wife is expecting" for crying out loud!

Measures or projects implemented by the govt that actually work.... translation: Corruption rampant here.

Qualified and accountable ministers, where a slight indication of any mistakes or abuse of power, the minister will most probably resign.... translation: Khir Toyo.

Very much less pressure to save like hell for my children’s education.... translation: Malaysian quota system.

With good grades, entry into world class university for my children is almost guaranteed.... translation: Malaysian quota system.

Fresher and cleaner air most of the time.... translation: Haze.

At 6 p.m. on a weekday, chances are my boss will ask me to go home instead of asking me to attend a meeting… which will be held at 7pm.... translation: What work life quality?!

Confidence in public administration and almost everything else --- this is a very interesting point and will be explained greatly in another post.... translation: okay, I'm not confident enough to translate this, so lets wait for your another post.

Newly added – knowing that the sanctity of my religion will not be ridiculed.... translation: Will. Be. Here.

Anonymous said...

hi zewt, do u mean to say that oz is saturated with accountants at the moment? juz asking...coz my hub's also an accountant and we too have oz somewhere in our plan ;)

zewt said...

LJ - :)

MKL - and i am proud to be considered one :)

taxy - nah, different approach. if you are running away from something, you just run. you dont care if you end up in UK or HK or Sg or US or Canada. If you are running towards something, you will know where to go and what to expect. that's the difference.

anon @ 24/7 4.23am - not really. it's the economy. a lot of ppl are jobless due to the poor economy condition. and pls dont be deceived by the stock market, the world economy is still in a shamble. yes, just leave this forsaken country :)

pinknpurplelizard said...

This is a subject I can 'discuss' about till the cows come home and go off again. So lets just leave it as that for harmony's sake. ;)

Mcmercedez said...

There are tons of reasons for a person to migrate to another country.. As for myself, I am still hoping that I could find a way out of here and get a better life.. I don't mind being a second-class person in other countries rather than being here and get discriminate and treated worst than a second-class citizen.

This is a hopeless country whether you like it or not..

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
whoalse said...

Those are some of my reasons. Some of my favourite food are available if one knows where to look for or just ask around.

One of MJ's hit may fit in this scenario. There are just factors that we can't change. So change what we are in control of.

"I'm startin with the Man in the Mirror / I'm asking him to change his ways"

From another view, pick a place of lesser evil and I doubt Msia has that "lesser evil" status compared to some major countries.

zewt, when are you coming over? at least i can meet the man behind the zewtness! LOL

LJ said...

You don't change Malaysia; Malaysia changes you.

Susan Wanderlust said...

Alas, not everyone is able to migrate. Some for lack of funds, others for lack of opportunity ... they can do nothing else but stay and fight. It is they that we must think off when we're in the "greener" land.

jam said...

Mate, I dun see any difference in between running away from something and running towards something. It is just replace something you do not want with something you want.

zewt said...

pinknpurplelizard - hahaha... cannot lah... let's debate!

mcmercedez - yeap... and change will never come... we all have to accept that.

whoalse - i was there for hols... as for permanent move... now... maybe next year!

LJ - and it's our job to remain unchanged :P

Susan Wanderlust - hello there and welcome. there are 2 types who stay behind... those who have no choice and cant move... yesm they deserve our thoughts... the others are those who still think this is the best place and refuse to do anything... well...

jam - it's all a perspective... like how i replied to taxy... knowing what we want decides where we should go.

SFGEMS said...

Home is where the heart is. As you may know, I am Malaysian and my husband is Singaporean. Ultimately, it will matter not, where we are, as long as we are together.

That would be my criteria. Whether we retire in Malaysia or Singapore or elsewhere will not be uppermost in our minds. The "where" isn't important. I guess we are much older so it is a different scenario. Whereas for you and your family, the horizon looks brighter elsewhere and so it's also right that you look around. :)

zewt said...

Estrelita - yeah, i have quite a fair of things that I need to worry about, thus the need to move... for me. for retirement, i think malaysia isnt a bad place...

Tine said...

I highly agree with your final paragraph. I'll forever be a second-class citizen here (well, when I finally hand over that red tiger passport, that is), but at least, I know I'll have a better life here with my family.

zewt said...

Tine - and that is why so many are leaving. u know, after this post, i got a few mails asking me how to apply for one... :)

sex shop said...

It won't succeed as a matter of fact, that's exactly what I think.

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