Why some Malaysians want to live elsewhere

Azrul-Mohd-KhalibPETALING JAYA: A recent Oxford University study appears to reinforce the popular belief that many Chinese and Indians have a strong desire to leave Malaysia.

However, some may be surprised that the research also found that 15% of the Malay respondents would like to emigrate.

The study, carried out in Peninsular Malaysia last September and October, involved 503 Malays, 500 Chinese and 501 Indians. It investigated, among other things, the relationship between perceived discrimination and action tendencies such as the desire to emigrate and the willingness to engage in collective action.

Azrul Mohd Khalib, a spokesperson for the secular activist group Bebas, is not one of those who is surprised by the findings.

Speaking to FMT, he said Malaysians, especially the young, regardless of their ethnicity, were increasingly feeling that they didn’t have a place in the country.

“Many in the younger generation feel less secure about their personal well being, are pessimistic about Malaysia’s future and their place in that future,” he said.

“And those who are not Bumiputeras are uncertain as to how they are being viewed and treated by fellow Malaysians despite generations of citizenship.”

Last year, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi disclosed that 56,576 Malaysians renounced their citizenship between 2006 and April 2016. Of these, 49,864 were Chinese, 1,833 were Indians and 844 were Malays. The remaining 4,044 were people of other races.

Azrul said he believed many young Malaysians felt “short changed and frustrated” by political leaders who remained “quiet, submissive and unwilling to defend” them against public attacks on their loyalty, religion and citizenship.

In recent times, some Malay rights groups have made statements that have rocked Malaysia’s multicultural boat, such as calling on the government to require children to be able to speak Bahasa Malaysia before issuing them with MyKads.

Azrul cited National Registration Department statistics which show that more than 5,000 Malaysians give up their citizenship every year.

“Our attitude should not be ‘good riddance’ or ‘no loss anyway,’” he said. “We should ask why this is happening and continuing to happen.

“This is the price that we are paying for the continuation of race-based, ethnically and religiously biased policies which should have been retired decades ago.”

He said such policies had no place in the modern, liberal and progressive Malaysia that the younger generation had been taught to believe in but couldn’t experience for themselves.

He argued that Malaysia was founded on the promise of inclusion but had strayed from this path.

He said the government must find the courage to discard “racist and discriminatory” policies for the sake of progress. “Only then can it convince our people that there is a place for them in Malaysia’s future.”