March 29, 2013
A House is not a Home
by Elza Irdalynna
By the time this article comes out, a close friend of mine will be getting ready to leave the country. Newlywed and pregnant, she will be joined by her entire family to migrate to Australia after obtaining their permanent resident status they applied for nearly a decade ago.
She isn’t the first of my friends to start their lives anew in another country, and she won’t be the last. And while they will be terribly missed, can we really blame them for choosing to leave?
Statistics keep showing an increase of Malaysians migrating with each passing year. The brain drain is a true problem in this country, as more and more of our creative and intellectual minds leave, never to return.Many factors come into play, but at the core of it all, they leave because this land has ceased to become their sanctuary.
In secondary school I wrote a play called “Anak Ikan Lemas di Laut” (Small Fry Drowning at Sea), about a girl struggling to understand and fit in the racial definition bestowed upon her.
This play was written as a direct response to another play I wrote, which did not win at the state level competition for drama as it was “not Malay enough”. Note that this was an English drama competition.
The champion was a play on Hang Tuah. Needless to say, the play mentioned above that questions culture and tradition and its irrelevance to the person she chooses to be, was deemed too controversial to be staged.
However, that feeling of being alien in your own home plagued me since I was a little girl, and it still does till this day. I’m sure many Malaysians experience this same crisis.
Being fluent in English is jeered upon. Forsaking archaic traditions and beliefs is considered immoral. Freedom of expression is either restricted or misunderstood.
Of course, no country is perfect. No government is without flaws and corruption. Yet why do so many choose to go over to the so-called greener patch of grass?
Perhaps it’s largely due to the people who run this country. The societal parents – and how detached we’ve grown from each other. A ruling party more interested in rebranding its name and increasing its number of voters, with no intention of fulfilling its promises as its slogan suggests.
Election is a game
Unlike the set dates for elections in many countries such as the United States, even Indonesia, Malaysia treats its elections like a game – up to the whims and fanies of the ruling government.
Like parents so caught up in chasing wealth, our rulers have abandoned us, and left little reason for true patriotism. The people who leave aren’t traitors to their nation. Instead, they are the ones who have been betrayed. Our rights are stripped, and any attempt at true justice is easily thwarted by new laws that clearly violate the constitution.
If anyone dares to question or challenge these biased laws, they would be threatened with imprisonment for “sedition”. The government doesn’t want people who can think and stand up for what is right. It wants zombies. Throughout our lives, we are forced to fit ourselves in its definition of what our identities should be.
They forget: it is the people who gave them that power. Instead of telling the people to serve the country, might I suggest the government start serving the people?
Most of all, this country lacks hope. No amount of 1Malaysia songs it repeats on the radio, or recitals of the Rukun Negara in school could instil faith in the country, when its blatant abuse of power is on display for all to see.
We are no longer blind. We are better informed and we are aware of the mainstream media being used as the government’s tools of propaganda.
Alternative and social media has exposed its trickery, and the people won’t stand for it any longer.That is why many leave. They’ve grown weary of the lies and deceit. They yearn for their rights to be protected, and their voices heard.
Perhaps the country they move to will not be far different from this. But treachery isn’t something they aren’t used to, and maybe it’s better to be betrayed by others, instead of your own countrymen.
Elza Irdalynna writes about art, love, and other things she pretends to understand. She is also an FMT columnist.