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I am leaving Malaysia for a while. This Muslim country concerns me.

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I am revising these posts to be succinct. As part of this I have written most of these posts on an iPhone.

There are several distinct issues with Malaysia and this is part of my role in disseminating this information.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy based on the British Westminster system. However the constitution of the country enables affirmative action for the majority, which is the ethnic Malays. Minority races such as the Chinese and Indians are granted general freedoms but have much reduced access to government positions, loans, housing subsidies and contracts. Large corporations are required in various ways to have Malays on the Board.

The argument is that upon independence from the British, Malay rights had to be enshrined in the constitution. While Malays are not indigenous they are thought to have arrived several centuries before immigrants from China and India.

Nonetheless, in this day and age the continued lack of meritocracy has led to an increasingly divisive society. Malays generally do not mix widely among Chinese and the Chinese generally do not mix widely with other races. It is a credit to this country that peace is generally maintained and shared interests and colonial influence allows large multinational companies to employ a variety of races and private enterprise has limited discrimination.

But divisions sill exist and the situation does not seem to be relenting. Brain drain is common and most non-Malays that have gone overseas such as myself tend not to return. Those that return have a tough time adjusting.

Where does the Muslim part come in? Malaysia is legally and judicially a secular state. However it is a quasi-religious Islamic country. This is because the majority Malay population is by default Muslim. It is virtually impossible to convert out of the religion and while other races can practice Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity they are not allowed to preach or convert Malays. If you marry a Malay you must convert to Islam. Additionally, for Muslims, there are separate laws known as Sharia which dictates illegality of homosexuality, drinking alcohol, gambling, eating pork and so on. Sharia is not a guideline, it is a separate legal entity. For example, restaurants serving Muslims during fasting month can be prosecuted.
post #2 of 21
Thread Starter 
What exacerbates the system is the rampant political corruption. There has only been one political party in power since independence. The Prime Minister of the country is considered to have to be a Malay Muslim. There are opposition parties but the media is mostly controlled by the government.

One may ask, why do the other races go along with this? Part of it is ingenuity of the government. The ruling party is a coalition of Malay, Chinese and Indian parties. While the Malay component calls most of the shots the Chinese and Indian components of the ruling coalition is tasked with improving the livelihood of their respective races. This oligopoly has worked for several decades bringing stuff like roads, electricity, water, telecoms and so on to everyone.

However this is breaking down as most of the nation building in terms of basic infrastructure is in place. As an obvious next step people want general rights and freedoms. You cannot openly criticise the government in public except in specific election contexts. Street demonstrations are considered illegal. If you are non-Malay you have access to government healthcare and K-12 schooling but NOT public universities except for limited quotas. Government agencies and government-linked companies which form a massive part of the economy legally practises favouritism for Malays and remember, by default, Muslims.

The message in this country is clear. If you are Malay Muslim nothing is holding you back (except for corruption and cronyism within the Malays). If you are non Malay Muslim, well, just deal with it or GTFO. If you want to, you can convert to becoming a Muslim and live like the Malays and you'll be granted Malay Muslim rights (eventually, to some extent).

There is an increasing Islamisation of the country as well. Wearing the hijab was actually uncommon in the 70s and 80s. Now probably due to peer pressure, most Malay Muslim women wear the hijab and some go further such as a cloth covering the torso and gloves. Malay Muslim schoolchildren are perhaps increasingly sent to religious classes on top of their usual government schooling. In such classes young female children wear the hijab as part of their uniform.

In the capital city drinking alcohol, clubbing and what not is tolerated and practiced among all races. But Malays generally do not want to be seen in public doing such things. In towns outside of the capital city, sporting activities and going to the beach sees Malay Muslims wear increasingly conservative clothing and this creates discomfort for the other races. Yes, if you are Chinese you can wear a skimpy bikini in a rural beach. You won't be arrested but it could be considered offensive. Nudity is of course forbidden completely anywhere, even topless sunbathing.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
In summary, this the dilemma of anyone in Malaysia, including Malay Muslims themselves who have this religion forced upon them, which they adhere to with some effort or ignore it. As a non-Muslim I tolerate and respect the beliefs of others. But if it starts to impinge on the freedoms and choices that I can make, and I am forced to legally convert to Islam (by civil law not by Sharia) to marry a Malay, then this is a problem. If I am not allowed to try and speak to Muslims about Zen, or New Age or Christianity, this is a problem. If as a non Malay Muslim my rights to loans, housing, university and particularly jobs is restricted, then this is a problem.

Many non-Malay parents of the 80's recognised these issues and sent their children overseas if they could afford it. Some expected their children to return and fit in, probably anticipating that Malay rights may be slowly eased off as the country matured. I was one of those children.

In the past few years I have returned to Malaysia for various personal reasons but the time has come to renew my Australian "green card" which will require a stay in Australia for up to 2 years depending on government procedure there. The complicating factor is that my aging parents are still in Malaysia, they are too used to it, and my brother whom I don't really get along with is now a British citizen and married to an Australian. Malaysia does not allow dual citizenship thus my brother could never easily (even if he wanted to) live and work in Malaysia except as an expatriate.

So it's up to me to make something of Australia, to put my hope and faith in it for at least several months up to 2 years. During that time I cannot leave the country until my visa is renewed... Except for special cases like severe illness of a family member.

My heart and instinct tells me to go, for "they already know, even if I don't" like Steve Jobs says.

The decision is made simpler by the fact that if I don't go by September as planned, my Australian permanent residency will expire with a long and tedious process to get back in and reinstate access to government healthcare and other benefits. Australian permanent residency gives you the same rights as citizens except some things such as voting and holding public office. Citizenship is granted within a certain length of time of continued stay during permanent residency if so desired.

Wish me luck, blessings, karma or just to STFU. I leave in a month and a half.
post #4 of 21
Where are you headed? Sydney or Melb or somewhere else?
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Where are you headed? Sydney or Melb or somewhere else?

Somewhere else... Can't say where because I don't want to jinx it until I get there and get the feel of the city. I hope to update you all. Melbourne is too cold not exactly near to the beach, and Sydney is impressive but too expensive until I establish myself better and maybe can move there if my career prospects are better in a few years.
post #6 of 21
Institutionalized racism sounds like the perfect excuse to leave a country to me. I remember Thomas Sowell writing about this in Malaysia and several other countries in a book of his that I read. Good luck in settling into some place where you'll be given an equal opportunity.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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post #7 of 21
Malaysia sounds very similar to Palau - if you are a native Palauian you don't get charged with crimes against non-Palauians, even in cases of murder or assault. Also, only Palauians can own property (only Palauian women, actually).

These kinds of places are only good for short term assignments where you get paid a lot to be there. Australia is a much better choice for long term living, imho. I almost want to go back just for the mangoes.
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post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Cheers and thanks for the responses.
post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

Malaysia sounds very similar to Palau - if you are a native Palauian you don't get charged with crimes against non-Palauians, even in cases of murder or assault. Also, only Palauians can own property (only Palauian women, actually).

These kinds of places are only good for short term assignments where you get paid a lot to be there. Australia is a much better choice for long term living, imho. I almost want to go back just for the mangoes.

Ever think of moving to the Philippines? Cheap there to live and the women are really nice and shapely not obese like in the states.
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by marvfox View Post

Ever think of moving to the Philippines? Cheap there to live and the women are really nice and shapely not obese like in the states.

I have been to Manilla, didn't like it. I think that the biggest risk of moving to a non-western nation is culture shock. I just went to the Caribbean, and it took me 4 hours to get a rental car - and this kind of stuff is normal. 60% of western expatriates to non-western nations move back in the first year, Australia has very little culture shock in comparison.
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post #11 of 21
Have you looked at New Zealand? I've considered that as a possibility, myself.

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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post #12 of 21
I wish you the best of luck. It seems to me you have thought your course out and clearly have good reasons to do what you intend to do. I only hope that it does not cause any rift between you and your family.

Best wishes.
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

I have been to Manilla, didn't like it. I think that the biggest risk of moving to a non-western nation is culture shock. I just went to the Caribbean, and it took me 4 hours to get a rental car - and this kind of stuff is normal. 60% of western expatriates to non-western nations move back in the first year, Australia has very little culture shock in comparison.

No culture shock here. 7-11s and McDonalds' on every corner, Lan Kwai Fong and Disneyland. Only things I find it hard/expensive to get are dill pickles and good bagels. Heck, I even found a reasonably convenient place to get my weekly dose of Mexican food.

I found Switzerland much more difficult to adjust to.

Expect to get a rental car in the Caribbean? You're not a very wise traveler... Just hire a driver everywhere you go and you'll probably find it's cheaper. No wonder you have trouble adjusting.
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marvfox View Post

Ever think of moving to the Philippines? Cheap there to live and the women are really nice and shapely not obese like in the states.

The Philippines unfortunately is not much better than Malaysia economically, and in some ways may be a little worse off. Plus although English is widely used Tagalog is the main language. As for the women, hard to say because I've mainly been with Caucasian women before, only one Asian girlfriend so far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

I have been to Manilla, didn't like it. I think that the biggest risk of moving to a non-western nation is culture shock. I just went to the Caribbean, and it took me 4 hours to get a rental car - and this kind of stuff is normal. 60% of western expatriates to non-western nations move back in the first year, Australia has very little culture shock in comparison.

I understand what you are talking about. Sometimes seemingly straightforward stuff is bizarrely complicated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzguru View Post

Have you looked at New Zealand? I've considered that as a possibility, myself.

It's nice, but too cold and too far from most of the world. Anyways an Australian permanent residency gives you New Zealand rights but not vice versa, so it's good to shoot for the Australian one first for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoahJ View Post

I wish you the best of luck. It seems to me you have thought your course out and clearly have good reasons to do what you intend to do. I only hope that it does not cause any rift between you and your family.

Best wishes.

Cheers... The rift right now is probably a bit with my brother and I but we've never really gotten along before. He is genuinely caring and concerned but very much unlike me and he's always had the macho tough-love approach in being the older brother. As for my parents the past few years have been a miracle considering where I was with them five years ago. We've sorted out a lot of stuff and they're amazingly supportive right now. Hopefully distance and my independence will not affect the rapport too much, that's one of my concerns but I think it is manageable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

No culture shock here. 7-11s and McDonalds' on every corner, Lan Kwai Fong and Disneyland. Only things I find it hard/expensive to get are dill pickles and good bagels. Heck, I even found a reasonably convenient place to get my weekly dose of Mexican food.

I found Switzerland much more difficult to adjust to.

Expect to get a rental car in the Caribbean? You're not a very wise traveler... Just hire a driver everywhere you go and you'll probably find it's cheaper. No wonder you have trouble adjusting.

Not everyone is as easygoing and adaptable as you, my friend.
post #15 of 21
Good luck with the move to Aus. The economy has been great here for the last 10 years but it's started to get a bit shaky as of late. You should be ok though as long as you have a good amount of experience in your field.

A friend of mine in New Zealand married a Chinese Malaysian girl, she also has parents left in Malaysia. I never asked her why she immigrated to NZ, perhaps it was racial discrimination? You will encounter individual racists in Australia (nothing we can do about that), but it's not institutionalised.
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

You will encounter individual racists in Australia (nothing we can do about that), but it's not institutionalised.

The workers on our farm in Moree, NSW were extremely racist, but if you stay on the coast I think you are correct. My wife grew up in Toowoomba and Brisbane, she said that it is much more sexist than here - at least it was 30 years ago when she started Uni.
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post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

The workers on our farm in Moree, NSW were extremely racist, but if you stay on the coast I think you are correct. My wife grew up in Toowoomba and Brisbane, she said that it is much more sexist than here - at least it was 30 years ago when she started Uni.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Good luck with the move to Aus. The economy has been great here for the last 10 years but it's started to get a bit shaky as of late. You should be ok though as long as you have a good amount of experience in your field.

A friend of mine in New Zealand married a Chinese Malaysian girl, she also has parents left in Malaysia. I never asked her why she immigrated to NZ, perhaps it was racial discrimination? You will encounter individual racists in Australia (nothing we can do about that), but it's not institutionalised.

I did my last year of high school and three years of university in the late 90's in Brisbane. There was definitely racism back then but it has improved. Rural areas are probably more prone to individual racists as opposed to coastal cities. Still preferable to institutionalised racism.

MAJOR PROTESTS IN MALAYSIA PLANNED FOR TODAY:
http://forums.appleinsider.com/showt...=1#post1897542

In case you're wondering why people want to emigrate from this country.
post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 
What you may not have seen from my other thread updating you on the protests in Malaysia and around the world today... Is that the crowds have a distinct component of Malay Muslims in them as well. The very race that is "guaranteed" rights and privileges. Ironically there are a large number of Malay Muslims that don't get to enjoy their own privileges because of corruption, dirty politics and so on. Also, some of the Malay Muslims are marching with ethnic Chinese and Indians in support of better equality and transparency in all areas of elections and governance.
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Ladies and gents... So after last Saturday's street protests and crackdowns with tear gas and water cannons, things are more or less back to "normal". The government had a big meeting with their supporters (aka party members, youth party members, "grassroots" supporters, etc) where the Prime Minister remained defiant and wrote off the protests as minor disruptions and praising police conduct.

Peaceful gatherings are still deemed illegal under some draconian laws. Credit to the protestors, they weren't violent, throwing stuff or damaging any cars or buildings.

All eyes are on the next election which probably won't be held this year due to the protests being in recent memory. The opposition parties have a chance but still lack some credibility despite winning several state elections in the last general election.

Anyway in a strange twist of fate I have been offered a short one and a half month full-time contract with a local telco to do some training stuff for them. So if all goes well I'll be busy up to the time I fly off and explore a new city in Australia. The marketing manager I spoke to himself said his children are in the US and not planning to come back any time.

The money from the contract would be helpful too, though I will have to rely on someone to collect my cheque for me, or for them to bank it in for me, etc. We'll see how this contract goes... Money is good but getting in the zone and feeling engaged and passionate over full-time work days would be helpful to cap off my time in Malaysia these past several years and prepare for the next phase of things.
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
So I had my first day of my 1.5 month contract here in Malaysia before I leave for Australia.

"Everything went better than expected"
We'll see how it goes next week.
post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
The population of the country is about 30 million, there's about 200,000 fans on the "Get the Prime Minister to resign" Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/100000...23344854372583

Well, FWIW, it's something. That said, the opposition coalition has some setbacks as a credible alternative.
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