Many Malaysians are studying overseas. Many have graduated. Some have come back, but many have stayed back overseas.
The million dollar question many of these overseas Malaysians, whether they are already working or still studying but would be in the job markets soon, ask is whether they should stay put or return to their homeland.
I have been asked many times by overseas students whom I have met. Take the case of my 2 eldest children who are now working overseas. All, I repeat, ALL their Malaysian classmates chose to stay back overseas. I have not known any of their classmates coming back to work in Malaysia. That maybe peculiar to those studying medicine, since the working conditions and remunerations, and the opportunities to specialise is so much greater and brighter.
As a parent, I long for them to return, but I have left the decision to them, and anyway I have told them to at least specialise first before coming home, as in Malaysia, the chances of being selected to do specialisation depends not so much of your work or attitude, but more on who you know. SO we have a dilemma here. We would like them to be home but we would also like to see them success and living a easier and less hectic lives than us.
To those studying overseas, they have a dilemma too. Whether to be home to be with their dear ones and perhaps suffer from less material comfort and lower degree of upward mobility , or to remain overseas and have better chance to realise their full potentials. Life overseas is not a bed of roses. Many would have to face loneliness, a change of living and eating habits, forgoing the warm and love that only family support can provide.
Time and again, I have been asked for my views, in person as well as in blog comments.
It is difficult to generalise since everyone’s situation is different and since circumstances are different for different persons.
First thing to consider is their own family. DO they want to come home and be with their parents, especially those parents who would not be well adapted to western living and who may find it a hassle to travel overseas to visit their children? To be home would be great, what with all the family support , care and love that you do not get staying alone overseas. For me, it would be Ok for my children to be overseas, since internet and technology have make the world smaller, and even though they cannot be physically with me, I can always see their face and surroundings through such marvels like skype and msn messengers. But not all parents are tech savvy.
Another prime consideration for most people would be their line of work, the fields in which they major in. If you are an aeronautical engineer , it would make sense to work for Boeings or Nasa than to come home and work for some VIPs to care for their private jets.
Then of course you have to consider the upward mobility and job satisfaction. JOb satisfaction means that you work and your efforts get recognised and appreciated, and in the process, you get promoted and maybe someday head a unit . Where do you think you can have better job satisfaction? In Malaysia, often it is who you know, and not what you know, or what you achieve that is important..In Malaysia, there is an unwritten rule that promotion in certain sectors depends more on which group you belong to , rather than excellence of work.
There are discriminations everywhere, even in US , Australia , Canada. It is human nature for a flock to stay together, like the birds..Birds of a feather like to be with the same, and so are human beings. SO you cannot escape discrimination anywhere.
One big difference is that in most developed countries, discrimination is an individual reponse and is not institutionalised. The same cannot be said for Malaysia, where the perception is there is institutionalised discrimination. Because of this perception, many overseas graduates prefer to stay there.
So for those who long for better prospect of upward mobility and job satisfaction and promotion, the choice is clear and many did not come back because of this reason winning over the urge to be with their own families.
One more point to consider is of course your own loyalty to your country. This is your own home , your mother land. You grew up here, and as the saying goes, who do not wish to be like the leaves that drop down to be with its roots? If you are this group, then come back and join the rank of those fighting asking for a better Malaysia. (‘fighting’ smacks of politics; this post is purely on merits and demerits of coming home, and not on politics).
As I said before, each must take into their own unique circumstances into consideration, and each must make their own decision on whether they wish to return or remain overseas.