A most frustrating hassle

Yesterday, 92 ‘lucky’ people became Malaysian citizens, many of them after a wait of many years. Many of these are more Malaysians than some Malaysians, but because of red tapes and other undisclosed reasons, their applications were either put on hold, or rejected time and again.

I remember when I was studying in high school, one of my classmates was a stateless person despite being born in Malaysia before the Independence, simply because his father had died early and his mother did not apply for citizenship during the period preceding and immediately after Merdeka. When he was in his teens, it was too late already and both he and his mother were given only red ICs.

He was one of the very top students of our school, and was given an Asean Scholarship by the Singapore Government to study engineering in University of Singapore and later went overseas and obtained his PhD.

I still remember while all of us who went to Singapore had Malaysian Passports, he had only a Certificate of Identity to cross the immigration. But he was accepted in Singapore nonetheless, and became a Singaporean citizen upon his graduation as an engineer.

The last time I met him a decade ago, he was already a full professor in Singapore, and was well known in his field.

There are many such stories. These are many talents lost because of our bureaucracy. There are many spouses who are foreigners but married to Malaysians who studied overseas and came back to Malaysia to face a  life long  hassle of applying for Malaysian citizenship.  Many had impeccable qualifications, but cannot get a job here because of their non Malaysian status.

 Imagine their frustration of seeing millions of foreign workers coming into the country and easily getting work permits, and many Indonesian easily getting citizenship while they, with top qualifications which would be an asset to any country, lingering around our immigration department year in and year out to extend their stay. 

 I hope this process of approving citizenship for this group of more-Malaysian-than-Malaysian people would be continued in the next couple of months.  But deep down in my heart, I can’t help but worry that this may be just a one off public relation excercise , which our government is so fond of and is so good at displaying. I will be glad to be proved wrong.

Imagine what these group could have contributed to our economy, our education system and our society? No, we rather allow people with poor education to get work permits and work at Wan-tan-Mee or fried-kway-teow stalls while their Malaysian hawker bosses are shaking legs at home and laughing to the banks.

There is a perception , which may or may not be true,  that one of the hindrances of giving citizenship to these people is the number game with regards to racial composition of the country. But these people, although in the  thousands, would hardly alter the race composition of the country, especially when demographic trend clearly shows that the major ethnic group is going to form a bigger and bigger proportion of the total population as time goes on.

Many of the Malaysians with foreign spouses who cannot get citizenship are so frustrated with the system that they chose to emigrate overseas. These are the cream of society and much sought after for their skills and abilities overseas. Their emigration is a loss to Malaysia and a gain to the country where they emigrate to.

Well, at least there is a good start now that  92 people were  given citizenship. Although this is like a drop in the ocean,  at least there is now hope that the government would ease its red tape and speed up the process of giving citizenship to this group of deserving Malaysians.

Otherwise, it would be a big farce that while we are ostensibly trying to attract foreign talents to our country, we are neglecting a ready group of equally talented would-be Malaysians who can contribute to the country at a fraction of the cost.



 This post is alos published in Malaysianinsider .


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. klm
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 12:38:37

    Dr. Hsu Well written. Simply put, PR and citizenship issue in Malaysia is a political game. It is about power for the ruling party. It is not about building the nation. This is a little told story, but 1M citizenship were given to Indonesian brought over to work in Felda schemes. The powers to be prefer labourers over PhDs, simply because they increase their voting base. The Govt is doing this PR thing just because of the next election.


  2. mycuntree
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 14:08:44

    Dear Dr Hsu,

    I have every reason that you will be proven right, in that this granting of citizenship to “more than deserving” citizens is no more other than a PR exercise by the BN government.

    This brain drain issue is not and never will be of great concern to this government, and I state this because it has been an issue that has been debated for far too long; and even recognised by the government; but what has changed? Would it even surprise you that it is actually encouraged “behind closed doors”? So long as it is to the “right” ones.

    I am in full agreement with you that for this government, citizenship is but a political,racial and ( you missed this one ) religious game. It has been since the British colonial government hand over this country to them. Doesn’t the going on in the country over the last 2 to 3 decades in every arena; concerning next to every aspect of life, particularly politics,race and religion point in that direction?

    AS for me, I do not just hope but pray that I would be proven wrong!Amen


  3. Noyawns
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 17:11:39

    Meanwhile our Home Minister is quoted to regretful over the loss of life of Noordin Top! He wants to help bring back the body of this terrorist!
    See Patrick Teoh’s blog:
    Pure silliness from a Cabinet official! Who can blame anyone who has lost loved ones in the bombings masterminded by Noordin Top from being extremely offended?! Time Najib slapped his cousin silly!


  4. ahoo
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 17:49:18

    In Bolihland many policies are based on political survival. When old horse was talking of 70 million population for M’sia then, many people didn’t understand what he was bragging about. But the very people close to him know exactly the reason behind his vision. The project IC in Sabah was the beginning of that vision.

    Well, it is not wrong to issue citizenship or PR to qualified people but to any tom, dick and harry ! We need skilled workers, yes but we need professional people more than anything else. The frustrations of foreign professional spouse in waiting for their paper to qualify them working in Malaysia is like the nep (never ending pain). God knows how many are driven away with our “special policy” in view of PR.

    Change is inevitable and if the regime do not show change in a positive way, we can just change them anyway by the power of the ballot box.


  5. ahoo
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 17:50:17

    typo : but not to any tom, dick and harry !


  6. CYC
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 17:54:27

    PR campaign would not help our country to prosper but more to steal votes and mislead people. KPI and KRA are all for show only. Just see how they try to block access to Malaysia Today simply because they do not want people to know the truth of PKFZ fiasco.

    It is already written on the wall that BN will cling to power by whatever KPI/KRA designed to fit themselves despite it may become a laughing stock of the whole world. Continue to use wrong approaches to correct the earlier wrong doings. Does this sound logical, perhaps only people with PhD could comprehend fully. Afterall, that is the reason why they selected him to do this meaningless job.

    Our country become feudalistic recently where you see more banners with picture or portrait of so called leaders. This makes u to think of communist country where Mao Tze Dong or chairman Kims photo all over their countries.

    On the other hand, look at those trade figures where FDI and even domestic investment keep sliding down at double digit makes u worry about their ability to manage the economy.

    Get rid of BN even though we may not guarantee success under Pakatan.


  7. klm
    Sep 19, 2009 @ 10:58:14

    What is happening now in Japan will be the inspiration of the Tsunami generation. If the new Japanese govt is successful in making the transition and have early success, it will be the new model. If the next 12 months is successful, it will have great influence on the next GE in Malaysia. It will remove the fears of fence sitters that an inexperience govt do not know how to govern the country.

    So far, the new Japanese govt is doing many things right. Like reigning in the civil service.


  8. Dr Hsu
    Sep 19, 2009 @ 11:04:07

    A drowning man will grasp at straws…..


  9. mycuntree
    Sep 20, 2009 @ 00:13:17

    Dear Dr Hsu,

    For the good of all Malaysians, then we must make sure that even the straws are removed. Lets see if they can tread water!


  10. serendipity hopeful
    Sep 26, 2009 @ 10:15:17

    Our present government policy of granting citizenships to the Indonesia foreign workers is paving the way for Malaysia to be part of Indonesia easier.


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