All Malaysians that have left Malaysia and working abroad are so much better off-financially as well as the quality of life!!!
Forced to take their skills abroad
DR GEORGE LEE, 41, urologist who was trained in Oxford and Cambridge, Kuala Lumpur
“I returned home in 2007 from London after more than 20 years. Malaysia is an adventure for me.
Dr Lee: Happy to be back even though he now earns one-tenth of what he used to.
I came home to find myself. I first left home at the age of 16. My dad wanted me to have a good education and sent me to northern Ireland as it was the cheapest place he could find as a war was going on.
I lived on a farm and would milk 500 cows a day for £20 to earn money to help pay my rent. I didn’t get to come home for a visit until five years later at the age of 21.
When I was in the UK, I wanted to throw off my Chinese past and adopt Western ways. I later realised success is not how people view you but how you view yourself.
I came home for myself, my family, to preserve my culture, my tradition for my two children. Just the other day, I was teaching my son how to fold the Chinese hell currency which we burn for our ancestors.
When you live abroad, nobody cares about you or comes to visit, unless they have nowhere to stay. I went back to London in 2009 and visited the place where I used to stay. The coffee vendor by the street was still there. He saw me and asked,“your regular expresso?” He didn’t even notice I had been gone for two years!
I am happy to be back even though I earn one-tenth of what I used to. I am grateful for what I have, my family.”
AZLINDA ARIFFIN-BOROMAND, corporate counsel, international law firm Fasken Mertineau, London
“My work covers cross-border mergers and acquisitions, capital market work, fundraising and listing on AIM Market of London Stock Exchange, with a focus on Asia-Pacific businesses.
I left six years ago after 10 years of practising as a lawyer in Malaysia to get more international exposure. London is a financial hub of the world and I know to be an international corporate lawyer, I need to be there to gain experience.
In order to be a developed nation by 2020, Malaysia has to speed up on our skills and intellectual property. A lot of good progress has been made so far and I think this will continue.
However, we don’t have much time, so we need to be more receptive and adaptable. The education system needs to be beefed up so that we have the necessary skills to compete in the global arena.
Meritocracy is important and we need to get this right.
My years of working in London has opened my eyes to a lot of things. I had to start from scratch in my profession as everything is judged on merit here.
I think it is good as it has helped me to be so much better as a lawyer as well as a person. No doubt, I would like to bring this back home someday.”
IGNATIUS RASIAH, 52, (pic) materials scientist, Ireland
“I feel so sad that what I do, developing new technology, is not for my country.
I would love to come back because Malaysia is home and there is no place like home. We did try to come back in 1995 but we could not get any jobs despite trying for 10 months. In the end, we went to Singapore and I got a job within a month.
Malaysia has missed out on several waves of new technology; we didn’t build on what we have (Intel set up its first plant outside of the US in Penang).
For me to come back, I would like to see a meritocracy-based system, total transparency in economic, political, academic, technological and administration management and equal enforcement of law for all.
DR MALINI OLIVO, 49, medical scientist, Ireland
“To conduct research that leads to new discoveries for the advancement of medical science which can help the world, we need funding and I don’t know whether Malaysia has the resources to commit to that.
As a principal investigator of the National Cancer Centre of Singapore, I held S$5mil (RM12mil) funding at any given time for my research.
Malaysians do well anywhere they go, not only because they are smart but because they are very hard-working. Their attitude is ‘work hard and do what you have to do but don’t expect anything in return’.”
Happy abroad: Nor Eleeza and husband Mohd Fadzillah Razali prefer the quality of life in Bahrain.
NOR ELEEZA ABU BAKAR, 38, architect, Bahrain.
“Although Bahrain is not as well developed as Malaysia, we find the country adequate, less hectic and are able to have more quality time for ourselves.”
A female Malay academic working in London.
“I don’t know if there are any changes that would influence my return or otherwise, because my reason for leaving was strategic rather than really being upset with anything.
There are some changes I want to see in Malaysia, but I am realistic enough to believe these changes may not happen in my lifetime. Perhaps when my commitments have been fulfilled, I can return to help make those changes. But it would be nice to return to less traffic jams and a more efficient public transport system.
I think there is a case to be made for the Government to recognise talent we already have at home – unpolished gems lost in the back offices of MNCs, GLCs or the private sector. They may not be able to move without support due to financial constraints or other issues.
There needs to be a mechanism to support local-based talents with potential to secure employment in areas where they could flourish and contribute. Needless to say, they should also be rewarded with a salary that commensurates with their achievements and abilities.