Why Malays vote with their feet

Malaysia's brain drain appears to be picking up speed. According to a recent parliamentary report, 140,000 left the country, probably for good, in 2007.

Between March 2008 and August 2009, that figure more than doubled to 305,000 as talented people pulled up stakes, apparently disillusioned by rising crime, a tainted judiciary, human rights abuses, an outmoded education system and other concerns.

The general assumption is that Chinese and Indian Malaysians form the majority of those abandoning the country of their birth because ethnic Malays consider them ‘pendatang’ – aliens in a Malay land, regardless of how long they have been in the country.

However, increasing numbers of Malays have already emigrated...