LETTER

Emigrate? But what about the doggie?

Helen Ang

Published
Modified 29 Jan 2008, 10:21 am

I wish only to highlight one point to the vitriolic critics of emigration. Have you ever given even a glancing thought to the fact that families are being broken up when professionals emigrate? That elderly parents are losing a son or a daughter forever to the land of the white man?

The letter writer who styles himself Dr G Walter has made some personal attacks on emigrants in this forum. Now this is just my guess but I'm venturing that he is not a medical practitioner (although I'm not discounting that he may be a PhD holder).

I say this because he seems to have missed the painful human cost involved when people are forced to uproot themselves from the country they were born in, in order to start anew and from scratch at a faraway place (we have been led to believe that doctors are supposed to have at least a modicum of compassion for human distress, no?).

Shouldn't he instead just pause to ponder why it is that a shockingly increasing number of people have taken, or are planning to take, this momentous step? Is it to make ever more money, as Shaukat Ali has alleged ?

And doubtless to - gloatingly - fork over a far more hefty sum on income tax to the developed host country as well. It seems to have slipped Shaukat that this 'money-grubbing Chinaman' (presumably, as the non-bumis are the ones emigrating in droves) stereotype is decades out of style. People may still think it, but it's no longer PC (politically correct) to say it out loud.

I won't cover the same ground other letter writers have done, who have eloquently expressed the cause(s) as to why they feel compelled to seek elsewhere for a better society in which to live.

One among the many reasons cited is the mis-implementation of the NEP/NDP/N-for-Perpetuity which would, thankfully of course, probably not plague the likes of Shaukat nor the self-professed bumiputera and supporter of Malaysia's race discrimination policies, Walter.

Granted, emigrating couples may take their children along to Australia, Canada or wherever it is they're headed but they're not likely to have their grandparents and uncles and aunties tag along, are they?

And over there, where the end of the rainbow is, we will have young former Malaysians growing up without the care of grandma and grandpops, and who will perhaps not see the clan patriarchs and matriarchs more than a scant couple of times in their lifetime.

In all likelihood too, the parents of these professionals would choose to remain behind as well for it's more difficult for older folks to adapt to a new environment and lifestyle, especially if they're not proficient in English.

So we can look forward to these first generation emigrants celebrating many Chinese New Years and Deepavalis, not in the midst of their loved ones, but somewhere where the grass is possibly greener and sadly, with none of the old beloved herd to graze alongside on the pasture.

The supreme irony however, I find, is that while the government is preaching family ties and togetherness, older Malaysians who have managed to send their children abroad for study are telling the kids not to return home after graduating.

It's not that they don't want to be surrounded by their fruit of their loins in their old age, mind you. Or want their children scattered to the four corners of the globe.

But then again, what a 'maha'-mockery is made of family values when - with government complicity, or rather through government refusal of support, if not its downright opposition the non-Muslim families have to go to pray together in a church that is in reality no more than a cramped shoplot rented in a commercial block.

Ditto with the Taoist 'temples' located inside suburban houses and Hindu shrines sitting under a tree, collectively the eighth wonder of the world that is truly, uniquely Malaysian.

How many proper churches, temples and gurdwaras have been built post-NEP with government (read: taxpayer) funding as compared to the spanking new mosques everywhere, I should like to know.

Back to the parents of would-be emigrants. They would have scrimped and saved and worked terribly hard, in the way that only emigrant-descendant Asians can, to be able to afford that tertiary education for their kids in Australia, Canada or wherever.

We naturally needn't repeat the fact that these parents dug deep into their own pocket because they know their children would not be offered decent seats in local public universities regardless of superlative exam results.

And forget about the JPA scholarships - the 'non-bumi' (I use this term reluctantly as it's a facet of life here but I personally deem it offensive to categorise anyone as a non-anything) school leavers have a better chance of striking the green card lottery.

So after spending that hard-earned small fortune to educate their children over the seas, these very same people further consciously encourage Junior to apply for PR (permanent residency) in a Western country. Why?

Could this self-sacrifice be because they're willing for their children to enjoy a more equitable life at the expense of separation from kith and kin?

And what about the 'emigrated ones'? Wouldn't they have left behind their parents, siblings, cousins and other relatives? Their best pals (unless they, too, have already emigrated)? The boy-next-door who's grown up to be Ah Chong the mechanic now working in Singapore or the girl-next-door selling Omega Trend products as her second job? The friends they went to school with? The family dog?

Actually, if the mutt had been a good little doggie, it should be rewarded by being shipped along also to the Utopia where animals are, we hope, treated ethically, and the laws are there to protect them from torture at human hands, not to make their lives more confined and miserable.

Given the path that the 'I'll-be-back' Subang Jaya Municipal Council is once again attempting to trail blaze , the family dog can likely woof some persuasive reasons as to why it urgently needs to emigrate as well.

What very strong reasons or push factors are they that compel emigrants to put themselves through this, I ask? To be separated by thousands of miles from everything familiar that they grew up with? To have to build a new life in an alien land?

For every case of 'good riddance to you' that Shaukat and Walter snort, I see a broken family and scores of severed relationships effected by the tyranny of distance (and other we-know-only- too-well state institutions, but we won't go there).

It's easy for both the men to write blithely about this Malaysian Book of Records phenomenon that is our emigration rate par excellence, but for individuals contemplating the move, it's an extremely hard decision to take with an even more heartbreaking price to pay.