I will never trade it for another country

Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi
The Malaysian Insider
May 27, 2011

MAY 27 — If the principles of jus soli were strictly enforced in the country, I wouldn’t even be registered as a citizen of Malaysia. Thirty-one years ago, my father was working for an multi-national corporation based in the Sillicon Valley and he brought his young bride along. I suppose I was conceived during this time. I was born in San Jose, California in the United States of America.

I even have a US birth certificate and a US passport (expired in 1988) to boot. The US recognises dual citizenship so I have no doubt that I am already recognised as a citizen of the US. But because my parents had the foresight to register me at the US Embassy in Washington, DC using Borang W, I became a Malaysian citizen at birth. My father could have made the decision to stay. But he didn’t. He came home to Malaysia with his family in tow.

I grew up in a middle-class family and was for most of my life based in Penang, having been enrolled into a private school (Sekolah Sri Inai). The majority of students were non-Muslim Chinese, I was only one of the very few Muslim students around in the whole school.

Regardless, I had a lot of inter-racial contact and I count a lot of non-Muslims and Muslims alike as among my closest friends during this time period. Back when we were children, the issue of race and religion did not count for much, not even during the 1990s.

However, my father decided to enrol me into a government school, where the racial balance was rather skewed and I saw some form of racism first-hand. There was even discrimination against me, even though I am Constitutionally-defined as a Malay (although today, I do not see myself as such). Moving on to secondary school, I began to make more friends as I grew accustomed to the culture surrounding me and my family.

I was overwhelmingly pro-Umno throughout my earlier student years and saw everything through their lenses. Then 1998 came, when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was unjustly sacked and publicly humiliated, under dubious circumstances.

This incident forced me to start seeing things through a wider lens. I learned over the years of the pervasive corruption within Umno, the excesses of their leaders and their unjust treatment of Malaysians — and even the Malays, those whom they claim to be protecting.

I started to read up and learn about Islam, eventually embracing my religious roots and realised that the only way to achieve universal peace is through the justice of political Islam.

Fast forward to today, the political climate is far different from what it was during the 1990s. Barisan Nasional/Umno is now widely seen as corrupt and unjust, manipulating race issues for their political gain.

The wealth of their leaders is unaccounted for, their continuous disregard for the livelihoods of the rakyat even more evident in the past decade. The economy is being managed badly and social problems such as baby dumping, promiscuous sex among teenagers and crime are on the rise and unlikely to be reduced significantly for as long as the current government remains in power.

With all these known excesses and problems in Malaysia, why am I still here? Why have I remained in Malaysia? I could have just as easily moved to the United States , where I would be welcomed as a citizen and, unlike others who choose to leave, have the right to vote and participate in the political process.

I remained in Malaysia because I believe that to achieve change, the only way to do it is with political change and that must begin with oneself. I translated this into action when I registered as a life member of the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) in 2007.

This belief would not have changed, even if the political tsunami of 2008 did not happen and the tripartite opposition did not make significant gains. Whining and groaning and voting with your feet will not bring about change, it will only bring further apathy to those who stayed behind. The lack of patriotism from those who discarded their vote should not be a reason for anyone to leave the country and never come back.

On a personal note, I am doing reasonably well with my own SEO / Internet business and consistently obtaining clients from the US and the UK / Europe. Although there may be a higher income if I were to leave the country and start living elsewhere, the cost of living in other countries is relatively higher than what it currently is in Malaysia.

Also, I believe that my wife would be able to wear the hijab freely in public, and I will be free to practise Islam openly, without anyone on the street harassing us or calling us “terrorists.” Despite what one may be led to believe, xenophobia and religious bias is not absent in the US, the UK, Europe or anywhere else.

Malaysia is my home, and for better or for worse I will never trade it for another country.

* The author is a Muslim Internet activist and blogs at Critical Thoughts (ibnjuferi.com)

  1. #1 by Thor on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 9:44 am

    Although there may be a higher income if I were to leave the country and start living elsewhere, the cost of living in other countries is relatively higher than what it currently is in Malaysia. – by the author

    Cost of living in other countries is relatively higher than what it currently is in Malaysia???
    Are you comparing us with countries like Japan?

  2. #2 by dagen on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 9:53 am

    ///Fast forward to today, the political climate is far different from what it was during the 1990s. Barisan Nasional/Umno is now widely seen as corrupt and unjust, manipulating race issues for their political gain.///

    “… widely seen as …” boy? Actually, it’s a fact. Well known fact to all. And acknowledged by umno. And perversely as well as actively being retained by umno as a right which they described as part of the rights of the malays. In umno’s lingo malay means the new race called umnoputra. Now this is also a fact. A well known fact too.

  3. #3 by Thor on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 10:02 am

    I’ve been to Australia, Hongkong and Singapore recently and I used to compare the cost of living here and there.
    If you’re to earn Malaysian ringgit here and spend it there, then you’re in trouble but if you’re to work there and spend the money there, then it’ll be much better than here.

  4. #4 by wanderer on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 10:22 am

    As a muslim you are better off staying Malaysia… you will be most comfortable among the UMNO Muslim pretenders, it will definitely elevate your
    image as a Allah serving servant…rather be a nuisance in a Christian Crusader’s country!
    You see the problem with the Muslims when they emmigrate to a Western country they expect their adopted country to follow their way of life. Yes, do not trade your love for Bolehland with any other countries…neither, I believe you will be missed by them!

  5. #5 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 10:43 am

    I find his first line of argument ‘if the the right of jus soli was strictly enforced, I wouldn’t be registered citizen of Malaysia’.. very strange. He seem to imply that strict right of jus soli or birth implies the exclusion of other rights.

    Firstly, the general issue in this country is that of right of jus soli is being disputed by the likes of Perkasa despite their literally confusion.

    Secondly, the person is absolutely confused that a strict right of birth means there is no other right or other rights are secondary to it. Its not an issue in this country. Khir Toyo himself will be tell you he has risen to the very pinnacle of our society without right of birth.

    This person, whose birth was in a land of liberty and had a good fortunate education with a multi-racial background and appear to understand what really matters rather than the superficial, appear to still be infected with disease of narrow mindedness that there its proper or OK to have some sort of oppressive rights.

    This person experience scares me, it appears that even with the right foundation, a person in our system can be thwarted in their personal growth. There is something very wrong with our system when you take something very good, perfectly fine with huge potential and still make something flawed, wrong less. Is it a wonder we keep falling behind if we keep taking good and valuable and making less with it??

  6. #6 by monsterball on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 11:18 am

    Why go to Australia…HongKong or S’pore?
    Go to Laos…Butan or Timbuktu…and you can still say RM is as good as any money for there is nothing expensive to spent….even if you are a multi millionaire.
    That is exactly where Malaysia is heading to.
    All the expensive buildings are for show…while many will be street beggars and prostitutes…making it a country that is most unique in the world…so rich…so poor….no more middle class.

  7. #7 by drngsc on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 11:22 am

    Simple Juferi,

    Give up your US citizenship, and be like one of us, then you earn the right to write about staying here. You are now with a foot in each boat. You know that when to going gets tough, you can always run. That allows you to say all the “good things”. You don’t actually belong here only. You can have the best of both worlds. GIVE UP YOUR GREENCARD. Be a true Malaysian. Then talk.

    We need to change the tenant at Putrajaya.

  8. #8 by k1980 on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 11:30 am

    What is the answer to the riddle below?

    What man loves more than life
    Fears more than death or mortal strife
    That which a contented man desires
    The poor possess, the rich requires
    The miser spends, the spendthrift saves
    And all men carry to their graves


    Answer—- Nothing

  9. #9 by wanderer on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 11:36 am

    Yes, yes! agreed with drngsc…give up your US citizenship and then, you talk. Believe me, you
    will not be missed!!
    In life, we do not only concerned ourselves with material gains or financial benefits, there is such a thing as quality/ value of life and unjustly, discriminated because of the color of our skin.

  10. #10 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 11:41 am

    ///This person experience scares me/// – Big Joe.

    It is disconcerting that he vacillates between “overwhelmingly pro-UMNO” to (now) PAS life member. He sees things in Black & white.

    Unfortunately the hope he sees in why this country is not tradable for another (from an overtly devout Islamic standpoint and implied “jus soli” angle) corresponds inversely to the opposite hopelessness many a non muslim and more liberal minded muslim would feel when they trade this for another country. His statement “the only way to achieve universal peace is through the justice of political Islam” sums up why this is the case when he and all that he believes represent the only alternative to the present moribund system & regime….

  11. #11 by monsterball on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 11:47 am

    LOOKS LIKE I AM THE ONLY ONE UNDER MODERATION….for the time being……………..

  12. #12 by wanderer on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 11:56 am

    Take heart Monsterball, the moderator is concentrating n Seniors. I too have to do self-moderation and modified my comments before they are acceptable…no respect for elders these days! hehe

  13. #13 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 12:04 pm

    “Political Islam” nostalgically returns to the ideological roots of Islam in the glorious past of Caliph Umar Abdul Aziz that Lim Guan Eng waxed eloquent of, converging politics and religion, which from Islamic viewpoint, is natural, since at the root, Islam is a complete way of life (Adin), and the Islamic state is the ideal state. Political Islam which has rapid ascendance and popular appeal in Middle East is a response to displace the corrupt & dictatorial regimes there, eg Shah’s Iran, Mubarak’s Egypt, Sadamn Hussein’s Iraq Ahmad Shah Massoud’s Afghanistan. PAS is similarly inspired to equate these with the BN regime. In the best case scenario an Islamic state is viewed ideal on premise of the country being entirely or by 90% majority Muslim. Is Mohd’s Elfie’s ideal suitable for Multi racial Malaysia; do non Muslim Malaysians share his vision of alternative to BN? Would it not worry them that an educated person of ‘right
    foundation’ representing the future to replace UMNO/BN has political Islam as the only alternative?

  14. #14 by HJ Angus on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 12:06 pm

    methinks the moderator has certain words that cause your article to be moderated, not your name being on a watch list.
    I too have had articles under moderation.

  15. #15 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 12:06 pm

    Back to this question – would it not worry Non Mulsim Malaysians that an educated person of ‘right foundation’ representing the future to replace UMNO/BN has political Islam as the only alternative?
    Empirically has the overthrown of corrupt regimes (Ahmad Shah Massoud by Taliban, Shah by Khomeini) by the forces championing political Islam bring about democracy, wealth, peace & progress? The secular regimes that Political Islam seek to displace are not corrupt & oppressive because they are secular. There are other reasons and as long as these prevail an Islamic theocracy, if installed proves no less oppressive. Otherwise why do we see the uprising (so called Arab Spring) in large swathes of Middle East, mired in oppression and internecine conflicts/civil wars? The answer lies in the amalgam of values. Freedom of religion, equality of sexes for women to contribute, separation of religion from politics, private from the public, individual freedom that includes the right to question – and of course the adulation of the Money god- are that which brought progress, prosperity, peace and stability in the advanced countries including G9 countries non of which has its political system based on Political Islam………………

  16. #16 by ablastine on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 12:46 pm

    Monsterball, you are not the only one. All my comments need to be moderated first as well. Well we must recognise that we are not as privileged as Ibrahim Ali. That fella can say anything and nobody can do anything about it.

  17. #17 by Taikohtai on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 1:08 pm

    Testing, testing:

    Queensland’s best selling beer is the XXXX.

  18. #18 by PoliticoKat on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 2:51 pm

    It is illegal in Malaysia to hold the passport of two nation. Malaysia does not recognise dual citizenship. You are either a Malaysian or you are not. You cannot be a citizen of both Malaysia and the US. That is illegal.

    As non-malays, voting with our feet is all we can do. Malaysia is a democracy. And the Malays are the majority. BN remains popular as it policies do have some visible benefit to the Malays.

    We have complained. We have voted for the opposition. But nothing changes. The political situation has not changed since the 1970s. NEP is forever as certain BN politician announced.

    What are you going to do? You still have to eat, make a living and most of all you have to think of the future of your children.

    Imagine being called a Pendatang all your life. Being treated like a second class citizen and told to be grateful for even being that.

    What would you do in our shoes?

    PS. You can worship like a proper muslim in Malaysia, without being called a terrorist. Significant other able to wear the hijab freely in public. Good for you.

    But if you were a Hindu in Malaysia, you will enjoy watching your hundred year old temple get demolished for a new road. You might even enjoy the sight of your holy animal being slaughtered in front of your house once every year. And yes, there was even an incident where the decapitated head of said holy animal was paraded about.

    Do I need to provide more example for other religions.

  19. #19 by omeqiu on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 4:55 pm

    ” I translated this into action when I registered as a life member of the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) in 2007.” So? Do you believe in an Islamic State just like your party’s goal? How many voters listen to you and agree with you?
    Do tell us more about the positive changes that you have done. Any way, welcome home!

  20. #20 by on cheng on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 6:05 pm

    Give up yr US citizenship, then you can talk, you hv US citizenship as insurance , so can talk big, moreover, you are the selected race, tuan race, so….??

  21. #21 by on cheng on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 6:13 pm

    Yes, Malaysia certainly great country, but surely NOT the present Malaysia govt !!

  22. #22 by Loh on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 6:45 pm

    ///Four YBs join Gerakan – it ain’t sinking///–Malaysiakini

    Gerakan will take in MCA MPs should any be elected in GE so that they can continue to be Ministers. That is how Chinese and Indian interests in the country are sold by the race-based parties.

  23. #23 by sheriff singh on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 8:29 pm

    This writer should put himself in the shoes of the oppressed minority groups.

    Only then can he REALLY appreciate the frustrations that permeates our society.

    And our bungling government and institutions are not doing anything to improve the situation.

  24. #24 by monsterball on Saturday, 28 May 2011 - 9:22 pm

    I said our multi billion building are for show…to lure rourists..while many will be heading towards..begging and prostitution…..also got moderated.
    Ofcourse…I said more than that….blaming and cursing ….you know who.
    I will not change to suit the MODERATOR.
    He has to CHANGE…not me….but he has changed….for the better or worst….I don’t know.
    Now Najib shouting again ..calling YOUTHS to help him defend PutraJaya.
    What does that mean?….we all know….but we cannot expose him in thjis blog.

  25. #25 by wanderer on Sunday, 29 May 2011 - 2:44 am

    YOUTHS to help jibby to defend PutraJaya.

    Loverboy turned pedophile?!…gunning young innocent virgins…must have followed too intensely on Sodomy II …sudah kena shiouk, shiouk……

  26. #26 by RGRaj on Sunday, 29 May 2011 - 3:04 am

    If you’d read the contents posted at ibnjuferi.com, you’d wish that this guy should not have entered Malaysia.

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