How many families were separated?

In response to some of the comments in the previous post, where there were some discussion on why some Malaysians migrate and seek work else, I want to repost an article which I wrote early last year which I think is still very much relevant:

Chinese/Indian Malaysian Parents’ dilemma

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

I just met a friend 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 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 for Bumi students. He has to work very hard, and has to be very thrifty in order to save to send his children overseas. And 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.

SO he asked me what to do. I told him this is the dilemma faced by many , many Chinese and Indian parents. Who doesn’t want their children to be around them? But 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. And that means letting their children work overseas, where the employment prospect is better, work satisfaction is better and upward mobility is better.

I asked him, why don’t you join your 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 etc. How much money was lost? Astronomical, perhaps.

harvard2.jpgHarvard University is very expensive

auckland1.jpgEven Auckland University is not cheap.

How many of these did not come back? I have so many classmates working as consultants in UK, SIngapore and Australia that I have lost count. This is “brain drain” and “brain loss”. Human capital is now recognised as the most important assets in this flattening world. Many of these who stay abroad becomes very famous scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs etc. How much brain was lost? No one can quantify! Who knows, Malaysia would have become a first world country by now if we have all these brains realising their potentials locally. Everyone, including Bumi and non Bumi, would have benefited more than now.

How about the human costs? How many families were seperated? How many parents died a lonely death because their children are overseas?

The lists go on………………………. And the dilemma is getting more acute. 

We should in fact be more farsighted. Tertiary education should be based on merits, with maybe a small proportion reserved for socially handicapped people. For those studying overseas, try to lure them back, place them in GLCs such as petronas, TNB, Telekom,, government departments and let the promotion be based on merits.

That way, the companies can be much more successful, the countiry will be more prosperous, there will be much more job prospects, the economic cake can grow bigger and we then have bigger capacities to offer affirmative action for the less advantaged groups.

 Be farsighted and then be rewarded with every ethnic group getting bigger share of the economy.

P.S. I am personally a victiom of this too. My own son is working in Johns Hopkins Hospital as a  specialist and my own daughter who is in final year medicine in University of AUckland is telling me that she will specialise and probably remain either there or Australia. So this applies to me as well.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. pohwatchdog
    May 03, 2008 @ 13:22:13

    Do we need to revamp our education system ? What is the reform need to be done in our education system? Automatic promotion to Form 1 and Form 3 brings a lot of misery to the educational system. Indiscipline students, frustated teachers, one sided promotion system, and etc.

    We need to make sure vocational training to be given to the non academic inclened students.

    Tertiary system should be based on meritocracy. What we have here in Malaysia are three system of education? Form Six, Matriculation, A-Level or Foundation study. Which countries gain the most from this brain loss? Singapore, Australia, UK, US and even Taiwan.


  2. Dr Hsu
    May 03, 2008 @ 13:30:45

    to be competitive globally, we have no choice but to practcise meritocracy.

    Without taking in the best, how do you churn out the best products from your universities?

    How not to be graded lower and lower in world rankings?

    Compared the all As students yerteryears and now. I was a straight A student and i could recall facts of history, geography and science anytime. The straight As now (my chidren are all straight As), do not even now about history of other countries. and the language skill is so much lower than our time.

    Believe it or not, I am from a Chinese school but I write and speak both chinese and English easily.

    there is really something wrong. They need to have the will to change the education system, not until we are so far behind and then we start to play catchup…other people will be so far ahead then.


  3. A true Malaysian
    May 03, 2008 @ 14:40:46

    Dr. Hsu,

    The word ‘meritocracy’ was make famous by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. Mr. Lee pinpointed this to Dr. Mahathir, but Mahathir rebutted that Malaysia also practises meritocracy amongst bumiputra. It was really a joke to me when I heard this from Dr. Mahathir.

    Apparently, the quality of straight As students are not at par with those in yesteryears as marking points were lowered to enable bumiputra students to score As. Even many of these bumis entered university from matriculation and not through form 6 that is much tougher and yet those in Education Ministry insists they are on part.

    In university, these bumis were given special classes and briefings so that they can pass their exams.

    Saying all these, I am not being racist but try to bring up the point that if you want to help bumis, by all means, do it, but do it in a truthful way and not pampering them. Pampering ways will only make bumis look ‘good’ but not look ‘smart’.

    To me, meritocracy will be more acceptable to Umno if it does not come out from Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. Accept meritocracy now may be ‘losing face’ to Umno. But really, meritocracy is the only way, even if we need to ‘lose face’.


  4. Dr Hsu
    May 03, 2008 @ 15:25:03

    A True Malaysian,
    yes. To excel, you need competition.

    That is why I have always stressed that clutches must be taken away if the one given the clutches wish to stand and walk without aid.

    That is why NEp must be reviewed so that our Malay Brothers can in time to come be as good as anyone in this world.

    Anyone given thousnads and thousands of AP would have become a billionaire; but the litmus test of a person’s financial ability is whether he can make his billion without all this aid.


  5. daffodils
    May 03, 2008 @ 16:46:07

    The fact that there exists the deliberate segregation of students on the basis of race, in institutions shows the denial of equal educational opportunity.

    In some countries there are laws that outlaw discrimination on the grounds of race, gender and disability. Here in Malaysia there are institutions there exist for one race only.

    There are set quotas for scholarships, for places in universities for critical courses regardless of grades, aptitude, and scholastic ability. We have to resign to the fact that if it is not going to be given to us, don’t stoop low to beg for it.

    The people who decide on the fate of those whom they interview for scholarships are already set in their mentality. It’s like a foregone conclusion who will end up with the lion’s share. Remember the case of the student who was recently rejected by JPA and not called for interview by other GLC bodies? He was snapped up by an Ivy Institution from the States.

    Of course it leaves a sour taste in the mouth of those who think that they have been unfairly rejected. We have read enough of such stories in Malaysiakini. The policy has been like that for years. Like one said do you think you can change the leopard’s spots?

    But it is because of the existence of this type of policy that made the rejected ones resilient to work their way to advance themselves elsewhere. Yes elsewhere seeking greener pastures abroad though it is not going to be smooth sailing for parents who have to come up with their hard earned savings.


  6. novice101
    May 03, 2008 @ 19:15:07

    A Utopia or there about!

    Can Malaysia be a Utopia or be something near about? What if these conditions are present in our society?

    All our children are given education from primary up to the tertiary level. All get to study for the courses they they prefer. After graduation, all can find jobs and from there on, their advancement depend on their own capabliities and their own efforts.

    The parents can be assured their children get the best chance. The old guys need not worry that the children will be separeted from them in their sunset years. They need not have to worry being torn apart from their friends, families and from things familar. They need not worry having to start all over again in a foreign land.

    As a nation, Malaysia keeps the money that would otherwise be sent overseas as education fees. Malaysia also gets to keep all the talents that would otherwise be lost to foreign lands. The benefits from this alone are uncalculable.

    Countless families can be together creating a happy and harmonious atmosphere for many old couples.

    Would not this remove countless years of worries for countless families. It would also remove hours and hours of pain. Tons, and tons of tears need not be shed in painful separation. Old folks need not spend long lonely hours on their own.

    All this makes alot of sense. A large number of people would want to do a part to bring these about. This is definitely a possibility. All politicians would also agree, as they , too, are human beings. It is only, when they start playing politics, that complications come in. Then, the possibles become the impossibles. How sad!


  7. monsterball
    May 03, 2008 @ 22:36:08

    pohwatchdog….knows exactly what’s wrong with the education system. Why don’t he blame BN for not doing anything for 50 years?
    Why keep judging People’s Party performances…after not even two months?.


  8. romerz
    May 04, 2008 @ 01:11:31

    I would like to share a story with you guys about the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ I read many years back in Readers’ Digest. Whether it is true or fictional I haven’t got the slightest clue but being an optimistic guy, I’d like to think its true.

    Once upon a time in South Africa, there was this farmer trying to make a living off the land by growing crops. Unfortunately, year in and year out, the crops would fail or didn’t make enough to support the farmer. He toiled day in, day out, year in, year out, and nothing changed.

    One day, he heard stories that people were making it rich elsewhere by prospecting for diamonds so he decided since he had nothing to lose, he might as well give it a try.

    He sold off his farm and went prospecting for diamonds but unfortunately for him, he never found the mother lode. So till the day he died, he just toiled and died a poor man.

    So what is the moral of the story?

    Well today, the land on which the farm stood became the 2nd largest diamond mine in all of South Africa!

    Hahaha, what relevance does this story have to Dr Hsu’s article? I don’t know. Drunk already but just thought I’d like to share this story with you guys.


  9. monsterball
    May 04, 2008 @ 04:36:27

    romerz…Not related to post at all.
    What you put out…is one with no luck.
    Quite common to real life….simply no luck!
    By now..I hope you are sober..and I sign…for 44 winks.
    Have a nice SUNDAY…everyone..except pohwatchdog….no like him at all.


  10. jughead
    May 04, 2008 @ 10:56:52

    BN Government is trying to push all Bumis into degree courses regardless whether they can do it or not. They have neglected Polytechnics and Industrial/ Agricuture Training Colleges. Nowadays, Degrees are like SPM in the past. Malaysia is surrounded by seas and we do not have reknown shipbuilding and repairing or serving aircrafts or high manufacturing skills. Rather, we have high unemployable graduates. Our research is still irrelvant. Our Uni should look at ways to harvest palm oil instead of depending on foreign labours. It is the same GLC making money from oil palm and employing foreign labours but giving less money for research.

    As for non bumi graduates, BN is trying to please the rakyat by giving them irrelevant courses – zoology making their potential to waste.


  11. A true Malaysian
    May 04, 2008 @ 11:34:36


    The moral of your story is one needs to work diligently on your ‘own land’ instead of looking at others’. Others could prosper because they are hardworking. So, if others could, why you couldn’t?

    Just don’t blame others if you could not prosper. Look at yourself first.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: