A letter from overseas

I came across a letter at Margeemar. I reproduce it in full below. I think it is worth some thought.


I HAVE been meaning to pen some thoughts for some time now, to let people actually read the views of the typical ‘overseas Malaysian’ who is kept away. I realise that my email is rather long, but I do hope that you would consider publishing it (and also keep my name private!).

I shall start by telling a little about my background. Mine is a rather sad tale – of a young Malaysian full of hope and patriotic enthusiasm, which is slowly but surely trickling away.

I am very different from many other non-bumiputeras, as I was given tremendous opportunities throughout my childhood. Born into a middle-class Chinese but English-speaking family, I grew up with all the privileges of imported books, computers, piano/violin lessons and tuition teachers.

My parents insisted that I should be exposed to a multi-racial education in a national school. In my time, my urban national school (a missionary school) was a truly happy place – where the Malays, Chinese and Indian students were roughly equal in proportion. We played and laughed with each other, and studied the history of the world together during Form 4, with one interesting chapter dedicated to Islamic history.

Though 75% of my teachers were Malays, I never really noticed. My Malay teachers were the kindest to me – teaching me well and offering me every possible opportunity to develop. I led the district teams for English and Bahasa Malaysia debating competitions. I was the only non-Malay finalist in the Bahasa Malaysian state-level elocution competition. My Malay teachers encouraged me to transfer to a government residential school ( sekolah berasrama penuh) so as to enable me to maximise my academic potential. I refused because I was happy where I was, so they made me head prefect and nominated me as a ‘Tokoh Pelajar Kebangsaan’. Till this day, I am absolutely certain that it was the kindness of all my Malay teachers which made me a true Malaysian.

I excelled at school and was offered a Singaporean government scholarship to study overseas. I turned them down because I wanted to ensure that I would remain a ‘true Malaysian’ in the eyes of Malaysia. So I accepted a Malaysian government scholarship to study at Oxford University .

Throughout my three years as an undergraduate, the officers at the MSD looked after me very well, and was always there to offer support. I graduated with first class honours, and was offered a job with a leading investment bank. The JPA released me from my bond, so as to enable me to develop my potential. I shall always be grateful for that. I worked hard and rose in rank. My employer sent to me to Harvard University for postgraduate study and I climbed further up their meritocratic ladder.

Now I am 31 years old and draw a comfortable monthly salary of US$22,000. Yet, I yearn to return home. I miss my home, my family, my friends, my Malaysian hawker food and the life in Malaysia . I have been asked many times by Singaporean government agencies to join them on very lucrative terms, but I have always refused due to my inherent patriotism.

Crushing down
I really want to return home. I have been told by government-linked corporations and private companies in Malaysia that at best, I would still have to take a 70% pay cut if I return to Malaysia to work. I am prepared and willing to accept that. My country has done a lot for me, so I should not complain about money.

But of late, my idealistic vision of my country has really come crashing down, harder and faster than ever before. I read about the annual fiasco involving non-bumiputera top scorers who are denied entry to critical courses at local universities and are offered forestry and fisheries instead. (My cousin scored 10A1’s for SPM and yet was denied a scholarship).

I read about Umno Youth attacking the so-called meritocracy system because there are less than 60% of Malay students in law and pharmacy, whilst conveniently keeping silent about the fact that 90% of overseas scholarship recipients are Malays and that Malays form the vast majority in courses like medicine, accountancy and engineering at local universities.

I read about the Higher Education Minister promising that non-bumiputera Malaysians will never ever step foot into UiTM.
I read about a poor Chinese teacher’s daughter with 11A1’s being denied a scholarship, while I know some Malay friends who scored 7A’s and whose parents are millionaires being given scholarships.
I read about the brilliant Prof KS Jomo ( right), who was denied a promotion to Senior Professor (not even to Head of Department), although he was backed by references from three Nobel Prize winners. Of course, his talent is recognised by a prestigious appointment at the United Nations.

I read about Umno Youth accusing Chinese schools of being detrimental to racial integration, while demanding that Mara Junior Science Colleges and other residential schools be kept only for Malays.

I read about the Malay newspaper editors attacking the private sector for not appointing enough Malays to senior management level, whilst insisting that the government always ensure that Malays dominate anything government-related.
I read that at our local universities, not a single vice-chancellor or deputy vice-chancellor is non-Malay.

I read that in the government, not a single secretary-general of any ministry is non-Malay. The same goes for all government agencies like the police, armed forces, etc.

I read about Umno screaming for the Malay Agenda, but accusing everyone else of racism for whispering about equality.
I tremble with fear

I read about a poor Indian lady having to pay full price for a low-cost house after being dispossessed from a plantation, whilst Malay millionaires demand their 10% bumiputera discount when buying RM2 million bungalows in a gated community.

I read about my beloved national schools becoming more and more Islamic by the day, enforced by overzealous principals.
I read about my Form 4 World History (Sejarah Dunia) syllabus, which now contains only one chapter of world history, with Islamic history covering the rest of the book.

As I read all this, I tremble with fear. I love my country and long to return. I am willing to take a 70% pay cut. I am willing to face a demotion. I honestly want to contribute my expertise in complex financial services and capital markets. But really, is there a future for me, for my children and for their children? I am truly frightened.

I can deal with the lack of democracy, the lack of press freedom, the ISA, our inefficient and bureaucratic civil service, our awful manners and even a little corruption. But I cannot deal with racism in my homeland.

I think this is the single biggest factor which is keeping people like myself away. And bear in mind – there are so many of us (researchers, scientists, bankers, economists, lawyers, academics, etc.).

What people read about in Malaysia (like Dr Terence Gomez) is but the tiniest tip of the iceberg. You will be amazed to know about Malaysians denied JPA scholarships (which would have made them civil servants), took loans to attend Ivy League universities, but who are later asked to advise our government (on IT, economics, etc.) at fees running to millions of US dollars. Such information will never be published because it is politically incorrect.

As a Christian, I pray for God’s blessing on this great country of ours. I pray that He blesses our leaders with the foresight and humanity to see that this will not work and cannot continue. I pray that they will have the strength to make our country a home for all Malaysians and that they will have mercy for the poor, including the non-Malays. I pray for true racial harmony and acceptance (not just tolerance) in Malaysia . – Yours sincerely, A very frightened Malaysian abroad.


10 Comments on “A letter from overseas”

  1. HardcoreMalay says:

    Don’t blame the system or the people. Blame the selfish manipulators.

    My advice to you is, be smart & don’t come back.

  2. arjun says:

    To the malaysian so frightened that abroad is the best option.I am in entire agreement with you since this country will have one less person to worry about.Please dont bother to come back since you are extremly happy to be in where ever you are.Please dont be shy and please dont lose sleep over it.There are tens of thousands of overseas malayans,malaysians and singaporeans who find life overseas so nice and secure.Our country has afforded the tax funded contribution your adopted worlds.In the next 5 years you will joined by about 15,000 young people who got tax payers scholarships to study Medicine in UK USA Cananda Australia .These bright malaysians who got 11,12,13,,14,15 As in their respective SPMs will be stayung those foreign countrries to practice very renumerative and highly paid jobs.You wont be feleeling lone.About 1,000 bright singaporeans leave,annually to your county and others.You must have met them at the autumn festivals and lunar new year moon cakes and tea parties.etc We in the left behind are happy your being with foreign friends.If you want to catch up with with whats going on you can alway use the blogospere,CNN,internet 4G where so many malaysians are saying things about the country that gave them an identity MYCARD and a passport.They are in Berlin,Hongkong ,Taipeh, USA.Since you are the only one so refreshingly frank about insecurity in malaysia,3.1 milion foreigners who made Malaysia their haven and heaven disagreed with you.But it is a free world.Klang and Melaka is always welcoming with open arms ,kway chee girls,dragon woman,second homers ,Indon maid and filipina maids and wan tan stall helpers, wortkers in SMI’s.These 3.1 million people sure envy you.Stay there.please be secure and happy.arjun

  3. bangmalaysia says:

    “You will be amazed to know about Malaysians denied JPA scholarships (which would have made them civil servants), took loans to attend Ivy League universities.”

    My sister fell in this category. After her HSC (STP), she was never given scholarship and was given a place in UM to do Science inspite of her good results.

    She was accepted to do architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in US on loans, financial aid and had to work her butts off to finance her own studies. She never came back to Malaysia and is now a US citizen.

  4. Paul Warren says:

    Hey, this letter has been around for quite a while now. I know I read it quite a long time ago…maybe in Screenshots, can’t remember.

  5. massa says:

    You read too much. More work less reading would make you a contented person. Stay where you are or come back. Who cares. My father spent 45 years away in the US and then uprooted all of us and came home. Imagine our culture shock. We were so much that ‘typical Malaysian overseas’. We adapted. I adapted. Why can’t you? What’s all the song and dance about? You miss home you come back. You’re afraid of racism you stay there. (no racism in the US? Gimme a break!) Judging from your letter you’re a racist too.
    But Paul Warren is correct…this letter’s been around for some time. Recycled material should stay in the bin.

  6. bisu says:

    Malaysian abroad,

    Take a year’s leave, come back, observe and decide. Face your fear head on. Don’t use fear as an excuse.

  7. The Good Guy says:

    Thats just an excuse to justify why the person should stay in the US,why cant the person face the problems that we have here just like the rest of us? UMNO was always the same even during the person’s schooling time,the NEP or the education inequality was there even then. WHen theres a problem you dont avoid and run away but you face it and solve the problem even though it’ll take a long time,making excuses wont take you nowhere.

  8. Sharon says:

    Yes I agree with Paul….this letter seems familiar.
    My personal view – it all depends on the writer’s priorities in life. If he longs to be with his family and friends then he would have to be prepared to make major sacrifice and adjustments in Malaysia.
    People change over time so he needs to check if he would have any regrets in the future once he decides to come back. Life could be harsh but the consolation is he will be surrounded by his family and close friends. On the other hand if he thinks better prospects are more important to him , then I guess he would be better off overseas. We have some friends who chose to settle down overseas, did well but still wish to come back and retire in Malaysia.

  9. arjun says:

    To; ANOTHER MALAYSIAN LAMENTS ABOUT MALAYSIA RACIST POLICIES;I am in entire agreement with ALL reported actions and ALL your comments regarding the personlaries mentioned ur letter in MGM blogspot.this country will have two less persons to worry about.Please dont bother to come back since you are extremly happy to be wherever you are.We can afford it.We envy your being with great friends.If you want to catch up with with whats going on you can alway use the blogospere where so many (ex) malaysians are saying so many things similar to yr commetary about those left beind,after you and family left.They expatriates are in Berlin,Hongkong ,Taipeh, USA,Sinapore,Vancouver etc.Since you both or you are so refreshingly frank about how things in msia,3.1 milion foregners who made Malaysia their haven and heaven disagreed with you.But it is a free world.Klang and Melaka is always welcoming with open arms to kway chee girls,dragon woman,second homers,Indon maid and filipina maids and helpers in SMI’s,curry houses, petrol pumps.etc They love Malaysia and they take every opportunity to be appearing on TV interviews and they all say Msia is a great country.I envy you.Stay there please,however if you longing for news and familiar smells,you can do cheng meng,autumn festivals ,hungry ghost festival chap go meh in San francisco.Drop in at the Consulate from free makan.we malaysian are great freebie huntersI hear that’s a great place beats Petaling Street.(full of Nepalis,Myanmars,bangledeshis,vietnamese.Thank you.arjun

  10. bow says:

    Keep staying oversea, you are a non-malay, you are not welcome back into Malaysia. End of story! umno goons got majority support here ,nothing you can do about our declining state.

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