Where is home?

The Malaysian Insider
May 20, 2011

MAY 20 — I am an east Malaysian living abroad. Some 25 years ago, I left for my studies but not on any funding or scholarship. I remember it well… I was young and ambitious but somehow it was a tough financial situation for my parents.

To cut a long story short, with a bit of luck and contributions from farsighted individuals I landed in San Francisco with US$4,000 to my name. Big money back then.

But the 4K was barely enough for a semester’s tuition fee, room and board in a university in a major American city. Foolishly — yes, that’s the word — with a feeling of desperation and uncertainty plus a whole big unknown future in front of me I went ahead to try my best with what I had. A university admission letter.

Today, I say “wow” — how did I do that? I recall working three jobs in between classes to make ends meet; get home from night shifts after midnight every day and very often hungry. I asked myself — am I here to work to pay rent or to get that degree?

Those “comfortable Bumi scholars” I met in university were set for good time. I never did understand why after many rounds of applications for financial assistance I was rejected. Was it because I was a native Bumi or just plain not Malay or Muslim? What does being a Bumi really mean? Many, many questions.

Yes, desperation and hard work got me to where I am now. This is where the kids say, “Borrrring!” Today, I would never have imagined that 25 years on I am the regional MD for one of the biggest electronics companies in the world (no need for names lah).

My work takes me to several dozen countries regularly and when I compare their economic potential, culture and history with my beloved Malaysia I realise one thing: I love my country Malaysia but I truly hate the unjust policies, social injustice, dirty politics, racial and religious divisions.

It’s so obvious, isn’t it? In my kampung even now — it’s true, back in the east — people from all walks of life, customs and religions are comrades. Come visit at the end of May and you’ll know what I mean. I seldom see that in Semenanjung. One day, I hope to live and see, a renewed Malaysia.

So back to the original question: why I left, well… it boils down to a single question: “Where is home?” I asked my eight-year-old son and he said: “Here, right here where I am now with you.” I agree. How do you dispute simple logic like that? Where is your home?

  1. #1 by sheriff singh on Friday, 20 May 2011 - 11:47 pm

    You sure you are not Idris jala?

  2. #2 by wanderer on Saturday, 21 May 2011 - 12:02 am

    Aiyah, why don’t you [deleted] the world will open up for you, no need to get 3 jobs lah.
    Home?…make your pick!

  3. #3 by monsterball on Saturday, 21 May 2011 - 2:21 am

    Anyone can make up a story like that.
    Read and not always believe it’s gospel truth.

  4. #4 by AliAhKongAnup on Saturday, 21 May 2011 - 7:19 am

    uhh.. what’s the point of this article?

  5. #5 by undertaker888 on Saturday, 21 May 2011 - 7:56 am

    Where is home? Right here. But my home was raped by umno, plundered by ketuanan thieves and pilfered by BN cohorts. If we don’t defend our home now, we will be writing “why we left, what makes me runaway” articles in this blog.

    The root cause of these evils is the corrupted regime. If they are bend on defending putridjaya, then we are bend on defending our home. no more sh!tting in our home. No more stealing from our home. No more lording over our home. Kick them out.

  6. #6 by Godfather on Saturday, 21 May 2011 - 8:34 am

    Home was where cintanegara forefathers and my forefathers lived in harmony and took care of the rambutan tree across the road, and shared the fruits at each harvest. Home was where his ancestors and my ancestors sat under the rambutan tree and smoked their homemade joints and talked about life.

    Now, home is where cintanegara has claimed the rambutan tree as his, and has even mobilised his kampung folks to decree that I can’t even look at the rambutan tree. He has even mobilised the local newspaper to print all sorts of untrue allegations that I wanted to put up anti-Islam posters on the rambutan tree.

    Home is where my police reports against cintanegara get swept under the carpet and home is where I am certain that I can’t get any fair hearings from my judiciary.

  7. #7 by Not spoon fed on Saturday, 21 May 2011 - 1:16 pm

    Are there Americans and Australians studying in Malaysia and remain in Malaysia after graduate?

    Are many Singaporean studying in Malayia and remain in Malaysia?

    Big talker like Mahathir has bred corruption among BN members and ntionwide. Even Ling Liong Sil also is corrupted.

  8. #8 by piaairline on Sunday, 22 May 2011 - 10:31 pm

    I am a Malaysian living abroad with a similar story in the eighties. After arriving in the U.S. for further study, I got special permission to work after 3 months (the rule was you are not suppose to work for the first year). I served food, washed dirty dishes, and cleaned up computer labs for 3 years. In addition, I took 6 or 7 classes per semester, or twice as many as some Americans in order to shorten the number of semesters from 8 to 7, saving about USD5,000. Often, I studied and worked between 7 am to 12 midnight, and my dinner was the cheapest item on the menu – fried rice. Many times, I worked during the weekend and late at night (12 am), substituting my coworker when they needed a break and I needed a few more dollars.

    I also witnessed some “comfortable Bumi scholars” – playing the guitar while I dragged my feet home after a tiring day. This was a sharp contrast to my experience and to a group of 4 Malaysians I witnessed – squeezed in a room, worked every night at the Chinese restaurant without permit, and they always looked like they didn’t had enough sleep.

    Discrimination is not legal for any reason.

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