Some thoughts on coming home

Was back after an almost 2 weeks break in North Island , New Zealand. I arrived on Tuesday , reached home almost midnight. Since when it is midnight here, the time in NZ would be 5am, I was really feeling the jet lag the whole of yesterday (perhaps age is catching up). Slept at 8pm last night, which was 1 am in NZ and woke up at 4am, which was 9am in NZ. But was feeling much better after the fairly good sleep.

I had a fairly busy but relaxing 12 days, travelling through the central and northern part of North Island. It was not as scenic as South Island, where I went last year; nevertheless, the scenery is still breath taking and the beaches and the bays were beautiful . We saw dolphines and of course plenty of sheep and cattles. It is a great place to drive around yourself. The signages are excellent , the maps accurate and most drivers observe motoring rules strictly.

One of the comments in the previous post by Klm about Austin, USA ( I had been there in the eighties,  a most beautiful city and capital of Texas) can be applied to New Zealand as well.

My daughter stayed in an apartment in Wakeful Street of Auckland, which is just off Queen Street ( the equivalent of Orchard Road in Singapore) in the central business district  – where the University of Auckland campus is. Everywhere we went around the CBD, we saw and heard different types of people and languages. One in four persons in Auckland now is an Asian. The whole streets were full of Koreans, Hongkongese, Taiwanese, Mainland Chinese, Indians, Middle Eastern people and so on. We heard different languages being spoken  while at the same time, we were able to converse with them in English.

One third of my daughter’s  graduating class is non-White, most of them NewZealanders of Asian origin. This shows how cosmopolitan NZ has become.

The laws there are the same for all races. I would be wrong to say that there is no discrimination. It is human nature that makes people of the same stock gather together, and when they are together, there is bound to be small talk about other races. But on the surface, I did not detect any obvious form of discrimination. Under the law, any discrimination can be reported to the authority and action can be taken against those who discriminate against others.

The important thing that I would like to stress is that the same law and same conditions apply to all ethnic groups as long as they are their citizens. There are no 2 classes of citizens. In the university, whether one passes or fails depend on how good the person is.

The same thing is happening in the States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.. They are becoming more and more cosmopolitan. By being so, they are serving as a magnet to attract the best brains in the world to their countries. Human resources are the most important asset. A country which is able to continuously attract talents to that country will always stay in the fore front of innovation and invention.

Malaysia has all the ingredients to make it as great , if not greater, than these countries. If only we have leaders who have more fore-sights and who are less self-centred. We, in the early eighties, were much more advance than most Asians countries that are now way ahead of us. In the sixties and seventies, our students overseas used to be the best and frequently topped their classes overseas.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Singapore would not be what it is today if not for the hundred of thousands of Malaysians who have chosen to stay there and become their citizens. Most of my classmates – I graduated from the medical school there- from Malaysia chose to stay back there and now are professors and consultants in their hospitals and universities, helping train thousands of Singaporeans to be useful and contributing citizens. My own sister, who is an actuarist, worked almost her whole life there despite retaining her Malaysian citizenship. She is now retired there and all her children are Singapore citizens. Many Malaysians  have migrated to Canada, Australia, US and so on.

Alas, we miss the boat. Instead we are now struggling to keep abreast with those coming from far behind us , countries like China, Vietnam, Thailand.

It is really time for those leaders who claim they love Malaysia to stop and ponder. What has gone wrong?

To me, the whole NEP culture-  which has bred corruption, abuse of power, personal glorification and lack of meritocratic principles- is the culprit.

We need to have a bold leader who can make a clean break with the past, takes bold action to change our culture from a race based one to a meritocratic and needs-based one.

Otherwise, we would be losing even more talents and brains to these foreign countries, which are great partly because of the ability to attract and accommodate different cultures and ethnicity without having a separate law for the new comers.


19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Peter Yew
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 13:57:39

    Dr Hsu,

    Welcome back! I’m sure you wish many of the good policies and procedures in NZ can be applied here. We can learn but the main question is whether we have the determination to be transformed by better ideas and practices.

    My wife and I were in both North and South Islands in September 2006 and I can attest that NZ is among the loveliest country to visit for sceneries and natural wonders. We love the south in particular and I’ve made all my holiday posts as well as my personal experiences and memories at my blog here ( Do visit when you have the time.

    BTW may I suggest you revise Hongkies to HongKongese as the former term is rather offensive to them. Just like we do not call the Black Americans N****. You know what I mean.


  2. Richard Loh
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 14:23:12

    Welcome back Dr Hsu, plus if I may add, to high blood tension, frustrations and madness…lol

    Instead of sending the MPs to Taiwan for study tour I think they should be sent to NZ to study how “the same law and same conditions apply to all ethnic groups as long as they are their citizens.”

    It is really time for those leaders who claim they love Malaysia to stop and ponder. What has gone wrong?

    Ler’s be honest, they all know what has gone wrong all these while but not willing to lose the power and ringgit that they only crave for.

    So long as they keep harping on “ketuanan Melayu” nothing gonna change in this country.


  3. novice101
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 15:04:50

    Doc, Welcome back, good to take a break isn’t it?

    Malaysia sure has all the ingredients to be great ( ) and what we lack is some moral person as a leader.


  4. Justin Choo
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 16:02:46

    Dr Hsu,

    Welcome home.

    I am quite familiar with NZ. Having studied in Wellington in the 70s and again lived in Auckland in the late 80s and early 90s.

    Auckland is actually a very big city by our standard. I used to travel all over the city making deliveries to the lunch bars, those small food stores where you buy your lunch and take-away to eat. That’s why they are called “take-aways”.

    The only worrying trend when I was there, was that each week the community newspapers would report break-ins . I was thinking to myself it would be a matter of time and according to the law of probability, my turn would come.

    The best time in Auckland would be in Spring around this time of the year. The first bloom of my roses would be bigger than a sepak takraw ball.

    Education of course as you know is first class.

    Yes the term “Hongkies” is not a polite word. But actually a practical term. So we just have to call them “people from Hong Kong”! They tend to be very tribal and most of them are in Howick. Malaysians are fairly widespread throughout the city.


  5. zztop
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 16:05:23

    Great to hear from u again Dr.
    With regard to your comments, as long as we have those bigotry, racialistic, greedy and stupid mentality politicians especially from Umno running the country, we should not even think of our country progressing in terms of education to name a few. Our education standard has already gone down the drain. These politicians do not mind the smart and industrious non-malays leave the country for obvious reasons u and I know. For them is good riddance.
    Unless we whack BN in the next election to hell, things like this will never change. It is a fact and reality.


  6. Dr Hsu
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 16:08:56

    Peter Yew, thanks for letting me know about this. I have changed it to Hongkongese as advised.

    My apologies to Hong Kong people for using H******* initially. I have no intention to cause any disrespect to the Hong Kong people whom I have utmost respect. Sorry for the initial slip up.

    My thanks to Richard, Novice101 for your comments.

    Justin, I was lucky to be in AUckland for the annual Parnel Rose Festival and I saw very beautiful roses, like you say, some as big as my face.


  7. A true Malaysian
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 17:24:10

    Welcome home, Dr. Hsu & family,

    Malaysia has all the ingredients to be a great country like what you mentioned. Geographically, Malaysia is much better than NZ, Australia, USA, Canada and so on. We have vast natural resources and we are not in the earthquake zone like those countries. Yet, Malaysia is not as great. I think, that maybe the reason why there is a Chinese saying that ‘moon is rounder in overseas’.

    Anyway, what else can we rakyat do but to put hope in our leaders to realise one of these days to make us great people of a great country.

    Just give our votes to Pakatan Rakyat in the next election to try out whether PR can be hoped for. I believe PR is the only choice we have now.


  8. Kenny Gan
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 17:41:50

    Welcome home, Dr. Hsu.

    What you spoke of as discrimination is actually racial prejudice which happens everywhere and is difficult to obliterate but the important point is that everybody is equal under the law.

    Malaysia stands alone as the only modern nation which practices institutionalized racial discrimination or economic apartheid. The damage to the nation socially and economically is incalculable.


  9. clearwater
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 17:46:49

    A meritocratic and needs based culture cannot flourish in an Umno dominated environment. Umno will not give up its NEP abuses and its cronyism for these are the twin pillars of its existence. I studied and worked in Christchurch and Wellington for 7 years in the 70’s, returned to Malaysia in ’77 but have not gone back for a visit. Friends tell me New Zealand has become cosmopolitan and much more interesting. More livable for Asians, except for higher crime. If conservative NZ [sometimes known as God’s own country] can change to accommodate Asian immigration and embrace cultural diversity, you cannot fathom why irrational Malaysia wants to regress and continue to lose her talent. We really have to change this Umno dominated government.


  10. klm
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 06:55:50

    Dr Hsu. Sound like you had a fine time. Savor the moment. This is the milestone, after which the children or you will visit each other only.

    This is what I am doing in Austin, vising children and grand children.

    Talking of Austin, if you had visited Austin in the 80s’ -it was still a cowboy town then. Today, it has grown into a metropolitan. It takes a 40 min drive on the highway – the Interstate 35, to go from North to South. Like from KL to Port Klang.
    There are more tall buildings in KL than Austin. It has only one 20-30 storey office building in the whole of Austin. Does it mean KL is more advance than Austin?

    Back to the issue of language we we discussing in the previous post, I just found something interesting about the United States.

    1. There is no national or official language of the United States. English is de facto- not official. Several Bills were introduced since 2006 to make English the official language, but these were never passed.

    2. Many states have two “official languages” – languages used in official forms. A practical approach is used. Where there is a large population of any community, that language used by that community is adopted by the local government.

    In New York, street signs in Chinatown have the Chinese characters in addition to English.

    In States like Texas, two “official languages” are used, English and Spanish. Hispanics form a large percentage of the population. Many shop signs carry multiple languages. English and Spanish. English, Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish.

    80% of the population speak English. So English is the common language for communication. But other languages used based on market approach.
    There is no compulsion.

    This practical approach is why United Sates have been able to adsorb so many different people from around the world. This diversity is one key factor driving innovation.


  11. john
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 10:48:11

    the best and brightest in the 60’s and 70’s from malaysia were schooled in singapore>
    the best and brightest and less well off in the 21st century still looks to singapore for their secondary and tertiary education

    however they are not the best and brightest in singapore ANYMORE

    they are replaced by the 2nd best from china
    (the really brilliant ones remain in beida,tsinghua uni or attends uni in HK)

    moral of the story-yes we have plenty of talented malaysians working abroad but are they the best and brightest even with their flair for multiple languages?
    the answer is a definite NO.


  12. clearwater
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 12:10:15


    Is it that important to be the best and the brightest in Singapore? We only want a system in Malaysia that will enable each and every individual to give his best and to fulfill his potential. And ultimately stay back in Malaysia to contribute to society. Naturally China with its 1.3 billion population has abundant talent and can afford to contribute some to Singapore and other countries. Can Malaysia with 26 million afford to lose hers even if not the best and brightest? Nurture our talent, not push them away.


  13. Dr Hsu
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 12:23:34

    Klm, what you said is very true. Once children start working, it would be just visitng and not like before, unless of course we ask them to stay and work around us. I leave it to them whether they want to come back to work or otherwise.

    I was in Austin in 1986.That time it was already a city of a few hundred thousands , with some tall buildings . The streets were clean and people mainly white then. I visited some of the lakes around the region, one of which I remember is called ” Horse-shoe Bay”, a constant level lake with houses built around golf courses. Then, even Malaysian cities were not as big as now, and not many skyscrapers in KL. I was driven by a friend to LBJ’s old home where we saw photos and heard recording of LBJ and his wife who was into wild flowers?…And of course tasted Pecan nuts and saw pecan trees for the first time.

    So my memory was that the city was much cleaner and air fresher than our cities.


  14. Peter Sng
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 13:07:12

    TQ for all the Malaysians who has one way or another contributed to the development of Singapore from 3rd to the 1st world status.

    But on the other hand Singapore provides Malaysians, who are marginalize in their own country, a platform to develope themselves to their full potential.

    So, Dr Hsu, its a WIN-WIN scenario. Sorry that you miss the boat; too patriotic to your homeland. Thats life-take the wrong turn?


  15. Trackback: Some thoughts on coming home part 2 « Dr Hsu’s Forum
  16. Dr Hsu
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 14:21:14

    Peter Sng, I have never regretted.

    Singapore is always my second home, and i thank Singapore for giving me a first class medical education that is comparable to the best places in the world..

    But my homeland is Malaysia and this is the place that i was brought up. Home is always sweeter even if it is not as nice or as great as otherplaces. It is up to us to contribute and make our homeland great.

    Even to my children, who have chosen to work and specialise overseas, I always harbour a hope that one of these days , they will come back to their homeland.

    It is indeed a win-win situation for Singapore and Malaysia. I blog about this not to belittle Singapore, but just to mention that had more of these people stay back in Malaysia, we could have reduced the gap between us and SIngapore.

    Singapore is a great country. Their leaders, unlike our own, also have the foresight to put in place policies that attract talents to their country. They deserve to be ahead of us since they have such good leaders and people.

    My only regret is that we could have been on par with them if we have more liberal and fairer policies.


  17. A true Malaysian
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 17:20:46

    Almost 2/3 of my classmates are working in Singapore but most of them still hang on with their Malaysian citizenship as they still regard Malaysia as their homeland. All of them are professionals, earning good pays and contributing taxes to Singapore government. In this regard, I can’t see any win-win situation here. If these friends of mine stay put in Malaysia, our GDP figures will definitely show healthier figures.

    I can’t see any win-win situation here if Malaysian government still treating the non-Malays as ‘Anak tiri’.

    Ketuanan Melayu mentality need to be discarded first before everything else. One thing I cannot understand is, why should you ‘look nice’ from outside but actually ‘kosong’ inside? Do you feel nicer that way?


  18. petestop
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 18:01:22

    After 50 years Merdeka, we have but regressed, with the races more polarised than ever.

    Corruption real or perceived and abuse of executive power going through the roof.

    It does not look good at all, until the 308 tsunami, at least with a credible Pakatan opposition, and even being a potential new govt, it gives a little bit of hope that things can turn around for the better.

    Otherwise, it is another 50 years of BN hegemony and further erosion of whatever that is left of an equitable, democratic Malaysia.


  19. Dr Hsu
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 22:09:24

    petestop, let us hope that Mahathirism, with all its clamping down on dissenting opinion, does not come back with the change in leadership.

    Otherwise, whatever good March 8 has brought us will be wasted.


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