Are Malays starting to leave the country?

The Malay Mail Online
December 18, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 18 — The South China Morning Post has suggested that Muslim Malays are starting to leave Malaysia as the country’s lurch towards authoritarianism and fundamentalism starts to bite.

A report in the weekend edition of the Hong Kong paper, titled: “Malay Muslims fleeing country as fundamentalism takes hold” painted a grim picture and suggested an exodus of members of the majority race but gave no numbers or hard data.

It cited a female researcher so disgusted with the state of affairs after her shared accommodation with other women was searched for the presence of a man by Islamic authorities on a morality raid that she has resolved to leave the country in two years.

“An anonymous phone call to the religious department alleging a man was seen entering her flat was all it took for the religious officials to descend on her home,” the paper said, adding that six or seven men from the Selangor State Islamic Department (Jais) had entered her flat.

Unaccompanied by any woman, the men were said to have searched all the bedrooms, closets and even under the bed.

“I don’t feel safe in this country anymore,” the researcher was quoted as saying. “It’s like you are guilty until proven innocent. Anyone can make a phone call to accuse another person out of malice or vengeance and, without proof or investigation, the religious authorities will come to your place.”

Figures hard to pin down

But apart from anecdotal accounts, evidence is on just how many Malays have left Malaysia is hard to come by. Most existing data has not been broken down by ethnic composition.

According to a World Bank report in 2011, an estimated one million Malaysians are residing overseas.

More than two million Malaysians have emigrated since Merdeka.

Last year, a total 308,834 high-skilled Malaysians moved overseas, with 47.2 per cent going to Singapore, 18.2 per cent to Australia, 12.2 per cent to US and the rest to other countries like UK and Canada.

According to the same report, the number of skilled Malaysians living abroad rose 300 per cent in the last two decades, with two out of every 10 Malaysians with tertiary education opting to leave for either Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries or Singapore.

These figures have not been broken down to show ethnicity.

But in October Former de facto law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said that more Malay-Muslims could be expected to leave the country if local religious authorities continue to pursue and prosecute those whose opinions they deem “deviant”.

Over the years, Islamic authorities have gradually become more rigid in their interpretation and application of the Shariah code in Islam.

They vilified and attacked a recent dog-petting event in which some Muslims touched dogs, which are considered unclean to people of the faith. The programme triggered such outrage that its organiser received death threats.

In October, the National Fatwa Council issued an edict banning Muslims from “celebrating” Halloween, which it categorised as a Christian celebration of the dead.

Kelantan, meanwhile, plans to enforce Hudud laws by way of state level enactments, even though its allies in Pakatan Rakyat are opposed to the idea.

An Oktoberfest-themed beer festival in Selangor also drew the ire of Muslim groups despite the promotional event being targeted at and restricted to non-Muslims.

Muslim intellectual Kassim Ahmad is also being prosecuted by Islamic authorities for allegedly suggesting that Muslims need only follow the Quran, and not the accompanying Hadith. The view differs from that which is officially approved.

Malaysia has also outlawed the Shiah denomination of Islam, which it considers deviant from the Sunni school that is officially sanctioned here.

Malaysia’s religious authorities also frequently warn against liberalism. The federal government’s Islamic Development Department (Jakim) has also stated that the National Fatwa Council had at its 74th meeting in 2006 declared liberal thinking as heretical.

Social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir told Malay Mail Online in October she knows of several Malays who say they do not want to return to their homeland.

“It’s not for economic reasons, but simply because they feel that the environment here has become so negative and oppressive that it’s impossible to be able to live as peaceful, productive citizens anymore,” said Marina, the daughter of Tun Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s longest serving prime minister.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 18 December 2014 - 8:59 am

    More than ten years ago when I first returned to spent more time in this country, I predicted that this would happen. At that time I met a number of Malays abroad, well connected and educated, even close family of Mahathir, who refused to return to this country because they want NOTHING to do with the politics of UMNO and they said as a Malay, its almost impossible not to be in this country, one way or other.

    Let me make my prediction – this country WILL CRASH unless UMNO is removed from power. The reason is simply addiction, addiction to easy money and addiction to religo-racial politics. But its the addiction to easy money and particularly oil that will be the fastest end to its rule. There is no chance that oil prices will recover enough within the period of our country’s remaining reserves that we have wasted the opportunity to create a National Oil Wealth Fund that will be necessary given all of UMNO government addictions.

    UMNO rule will end, one way or other. Either we decide and spare ourselves harder pain or it ends when we all pay more than they do..

  2. #2 by bangkoklane on Thursday, 18 December 2014 - 9:10 am

    ABU. So sad though oil price has dropped and the new government has to repay all the debts left behind. But we will survive and rise again to be a true Malaysian tiger for all as in the past.

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Thursday, 18 December 2014 - 9:33 am

    “An anonymous phone call to the religious department alleging a man was seen entering her flat”

    “six or seven men from the Selangor State Islamic Department (Jais) had entered her flat”

    Ha, ha – Confirmed, NOT 1 MAN entering her flat, 6 or 7 MEN subsequently entered her flat

    A single pretty WOMAN with 6 or 7 MEN inside her flat, SAFE or not huh
    Words of 1 WOMAN against words of >4 witnesses, tough

    If truly Malays starting 2 leave d country in growing numbers, WELCOME 2 d migration/exodus movement

    Not 2 worry, years later (mayb by 2020), as they earn a higher value currency n enjoy a better quality of life outside M’sia, they will THANK UmnoB/BN 4 making them 2 choose dis route today

  4. #4 by boh-liao on Thursday, 18 December 2014 - 9:40 am

    D gerrymandering process is about 2 begin 2 create more seats dat guarantee perpetual rule by minority-elected UmnoB/BN

  5. #5 by boh-liao on Thursday, 18 December 2014 - 10:01 am

    Seriously, HOW easy is it for 6 or 7 MEN (acting just on a fone call, out of malice or vengeance or not) fr Jais 2 enter d flat/house of a single Muslim WOMAN at ANY time of the day/night n SEARCH her stuff 4 khalwat?

  6. #6 by waterfrontcoolie on Thursday, 18 December 2014 - 12:38 pm

    Remember the case that one of them took picture of a girl who had to pee?

  7. #7 by winstony on Thursday, 18 December 2014 - 5:14 pm

    Once the moolah dries up, even the top honchos in the ruling party will leave!!!!!!

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