A parent’s dilemma

I refer to a beautifully written  letter in Malaysiakini yesterday by “A father’s Yoke” and I would like to say what is expressed there is indeed very true.

I think it is pertinent for me to post an edited version of an article which I wrote in March, in conjunction of this touching letter written by “A father’s yoke” :

A parent’s dilemma
Many Malaysian Parents, mainly the non Malay, have a dilemma regarding their children’s education and future.

I met a friend recently who has this to tell me. He is an engineer earning a decent living but not really rich. He has 2 children and he was really grateful that he has only 2. The eldest is a son now just finished his studies in engineering in Australia. The second one is a daughter who has just gone to Australia to study business management.  

His dilemma is this. He has no choice but to send his son overseas in order to provide him with a good education, and at the same time to broaden his perspective . He could have asked his son to study locally but the problem was his son might not be given the course of his choice since majority of places for medicine and engineering courses are reserved.

He has to work very hard, and has to be very thrifty in order to save to send his children overseas. He is now near retirement age.

He wants his son to come back Malaysia to work but he fears that his son may not get a good job and the prospect of promotion may be limited.

I told him this is the dilemma faced by many Chinese and Indian parents. Who doesn’t want their children to be around them? At the same time , if the children cannot get good job prospects here , what would the parents do?

They would want the children to have the best chance and do something that they are happy with – that means letting their children work overseas, where the employment prospect is better, work satisfaction is better and most importantly, upward mobility is better .



I asked him the reason why he did not join his son down under. He answered that he loves Malaysia. He was born and bred here. His friends and relatives are all here and his business is also here. He would feel out of place and it would not be easy for a middle age man to start his network and friends all over again in a foreign country.

What can we do about this? When a citizen’s child studies overseas, we lose precious foreign exchange and this is no small sum as overseas education runs into hundreds of thousands of ringgits for each student.


Over the years, how many Malaysians have gone overseas to study? One hundred thousand? half a million? one million? I don’t have the figure but Malaysian used to be the biggest group of foreign students in Australia, UK .  

How much money was lost? Astronomical, perhaps.

How many of these did not come back? I personally have many classmates working as consultants in UK, Singapore and Australia. All of us also know someone personally who have migrated. That is the scale we are talking about. This is “brain drain” and “brain loss”.

Human capital is now recognised as the most important assets in this flattening world. Many of those who stay abroad become very famous scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs etc. How much brain was lost? No one can quantify!

Malaysia could have become a first world country by now if we have all these brains realising their potentials locally.

How about the human costs? How many families were seperated? How many parents died a lonely death because their children are overseas? How many children overseas have to grope their ways around without their parents at their side – parents who could have  guided them well with their life experience? T

This is the dilemma!


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. wits0
    Jul 18, 2007 @ 03:34:23

    For a poorer family say, what happens? The parents to die in destitute while their children becomes uprooted far away? Is this what life is all about? Suffer because of the NEP, then be deprived of a normal life afterwards? Blessed are those who don’t have children – under this sort of deal, but this isn’t the norm. How many generation will this go on?

    The NEP cannot but be something that deprive happiness for some at the expense of others. That makes it an Immoral Law incompatible with Nature. Should a nation(or just a country, rather) deserve to succeed by way of such covert immorality?


  2. Clive Sheldon
    Jul 18, 2007 @ 05:04:16

    Re the dilemma – Many people put their lives on `Hold` thinking of the distant future instead of taking the immediate action that is obvious and presents itself `Today.` T Harv Eker Multi Millionaire Author explains this attitude in his book ` Secrets of The Millionaire Mind.` Seems difficult to believe but there is always something any person can do to make money right where you are – no need to live a poverty style life in order to assist an other. Live life to the full right here and now. Get the book – read it again, again and again till your attitude to life changes and then, so will your lifestyle. Feel free to contact me if you`d like to talk to someone about a prpblem anytime. Trl/Fax 44 114 250 8687 Quentin Publications Ltd, Provincial House, Solly Street, Sheffield S1 4BA UK
    Look on obstacles as opportunities on the road to suuccess.


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  4. wits0
    Jul 18, 2007 @ 10:15:21

    Maybe it is really the Perfect Dilemma for all those disadvantaged.


  5. hsudarren
    Jul 18, 2007 @ 10:31:34

    This is the dilemma. This is also the sorrow.


  6. wits0
    Jul 18, 2007 @ 20:37:41

    You don’t cause sorrow and then expect to succeed in life. One needs no outward show/sign of external piety to sense that.


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