There are so many opinions on social media for and against Malaysians who are considering leaving the country for better employment, a better livelihood, and simply for peace of mind, and in hopes of a meaningful life.
There are many who advise them not to go, that they should stay on and “weather the storm”. But this storm has raged on for decades, and some feel that enough is enough.
The advisers say, do not leave Malaysia, so they can kick the liars, bigots, racists and corrupt out from their positions of power. They say “stay to change the government at the next election; stay so that these authoritarian bullies will not think we are weak and helpless”.
Think about it. One is neither weak nor helpless for wanting to leave.
On the contrary, many have felt weak and helpless for speaking up, providing solutions, trying to be transparent, voicing concerns and advocating change.
The problem is that those who need to listen are not doing so. And the few who do listen, prosecute those who struggle to right the wrongs.
If voices are not heard, a normal human reaction is one of disappointment and dejection. This is hardly a sign of weakness. It is a compassionate human who has these feelings, not a weak or helpless one. When humans feel slighted and ignored, or feel that they are not being taken seriously, it is a huge emotional setback.
Many can bounce back into fight mode, but there comes a point when enough is enough.
Many whose advice is to stay are either politicians not currently in the government or the older generation who cannot leave for many reasons, both financial and emotional. Many of these hopeful individuals feel it is the right advice to give the younger generation because it is the responsible thing to do. Such hope is wonderful because this is what patriotism is about.
The reality on the ground, however, is a lot more serious and goes beyond patriotism. Sentiment is low not just because of the pandemic.
Feelings of hopelessness were quite apparent even during the 2018-2020 period when we had a completely new coalition of parties governing the nation.
Who are we to give advice to the younger generation, who are willing to take the risk to re-settle elsewhere? These are the frustrated young Malaysians who feel they are not being cared for by a responsible and fair leadership. They feel they have no voice in their own country. They are young enough to start afresh elsewhere, and want to leave, but with a very heavy heart.
It is likely that nasi lemak and laksa are not enough to put their minds at ease, although they wish it would. Those who leave will surely miss Malaysia, but at this juncture, they feel they must make a serious decision for the sake of their children’s future. Before we judge them, let us look at the reality of our nation today.
They see the double standards, the special treatment given to VVIPs, the injustices faced by ordinary citizens, and the endemic corruption that affects citizens like you and me.
They see callous and dishonest leadership everywhere. The choice to leave is not merely about economics and finances.
They see a leadership that doesn’t seem to think there is a problem. They see a political system that benefits the rich, unethical, and powerful through cronyism and patronage. As for the education system, it is another rusty can of worms.
We all pay taxes, obey the rules, we try not to kill, steal, or be rude to one another. We try our best not to be discriminatory, sexist, or bigoted.
When ordinary members of the public are summoned to be in court because a date was set months ago, we show up because we know the consequences if we don’t. If it is against the rules to meet in crowds for a durian-gorging session, we do not because we abide by the pandemic SOPs.
Remember what teenager Greta Thunberg said at the United Nations: “We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back.
“I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet, you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you.
“We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then maybe we should change the system itself.”
And here is the clincher: “You say you love your children above all else and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes”.
So, I have this to say to all Malaysians who are considering leaving the country to settle elsewhere. I have no foot to stand on if I encourage or plead with you to stay.
I understand your pain, your frustrations and the deep sense of injustice done to you. No matter your gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity or religion, if you feel you have to escape the selfish system that we live under today, you should go with hope.
Ultimately, you need peace of mind to bring up your children who will, in turn, feel that they belong to a nation that takes care of them. We all have to make choices, and we should not judge you.
If your choice to leave Malaysia has negative repercussions on the nation, then maybe this is the final wake up call for the current leadership. It is they who must sincerely reflect on the state of our nation, because it is they who put us in this position in the first place.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.