A House is not a Home

March 29, 2013

A House is not a Home

by Elza Irdalynna


Go to Australia

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 Mediocrityparents – 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.

2 PMsRacial, economic, religious and educational gaps are enforced instead of bridged. Individualism is suppressed. Youths of today are told to be grateful and not question the authority.

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.

32 thoughts on “A House is not a Home

  1. Close down Talent Corp and MACC. Vote for an Alternative Leadership. God Save Malaysia from Crooks, Liars and Criminals. Charge Mahathir and others like him for corruption and abuse of power. ABU

  2. Not need to go far……Just go down south, 400K Malaysian residing & working in singapore, contributing to their economy instead of Malaysia speaks volume

  3. I have a friend Mr Ranjit Singh,the general manager of Cold Storage Malaysia.He and his family migrated to Australia about ten year ago because he was not very happy with the environment in Malaysia.

    I met him recently in Sydney and he ask me if he an get back his Malaysian passport.He said he regretted giving up his Malaysian citizenship.

  4. Migrating to other countries will not solve the problems here in Malaysia. Vote in the right people from the right political parties appropriate to your individual apetites would be a better option.

  5. To each his own………if they’re truly happy migrating and living in another country, let them be. Not everyone is happy or unhappy after migrating. But i do wonder why, those who say they’re happy migrating, continues to talk and write bad things about Malaysia. Shouldnt they forget about Malaysia and just enjoy their lives overseas? Why continue talk bad about Malaysia if they’re happy where they are? unless they actually prefer to come back (i.e. not truly happy living overseas) and are trying to change the govt before they come back?

  6. “Being fluent in English is jeered upon. Forsaking archaic traditions and beliefs is considered immoral. Freedom of expression is either restricted or misunderstood.”

    Even if you talk proper BM, you’ll be jeered upon in school. That’s why there are many among the Malays that can’t write or talk proper BM or English.

  7. aliefalfa, finally you are talking sense but the snag is; we don’t have an independant and fair EC (ED?) to choose the government we want.

  8. We can right the wrongs on policies that are not on par with all Malaysians and the best time is on polling day. Most Malaysians migrated to other countries due to their frustration on non level playing fields in the implementation of policies that have been existed over half a century in this country. Generally, living in a friendly environment in an adopted country is less stressful and also for the education opportunities for their children. One longs to come back to Malaysia due to loneliness and different culture on a long term basis. For sure, everything is not permanent in life except the sun rises from the east.

  9. The solution is not in migrating but to take up the fight and prove to the world that we’re not wimps who’ll submit to the whims of UMNO and by extension the boorish Keralan, Al Kutty. We can if we make a firm stand and show them what stuff ordinary Malaysians are made of.

    I too met many who have migrated but their hearts are still here. I wanted to do the same once but on hindsight I don’t wish to be called a loser.

    GE 13 is around the corner. Now let’s make the unthinkable happens.

    Btw, Zambry is so cocksure BN will win in Perak. I’ve expected him to say so. I shook his hands, wished him the very best and left. He’s a nice fellow works hard but being a young Turk he’s not well liked by those from the Tajol camp.

    Whatever that have been said about Umno and BN, according to Zambry, are fabrication by the Opposition.

    So, guys that’s what transpired during my meeting with Zambry on Friday, March 28.


  10. Read Gene Sharp book From Dictatorship to Democracy and learn how we can help to take back our country from the crooks, thieves and neo-fascists.
    Book is available for free on the Internet.

  11. Well, I have two children down south. They continued their study there and began to work there too. Pretty sure they are not interested to move back and I am not insisting.

    Come Monday another one is on the way. Accepted in one of the main polytechnic to take up nursing. I cannot afford the fees but chances are the child is able to secure a sponsorship with one of the hospital, I hope. See, I can still hope while as here I have to consider race, religion etc, etc. before money and gone is my hope.

    The child could have take up A level here but we don’t see any future after this. Can anyone recommend a good polytechnic or vocational school in Malaysia? Our educational system don’t guide our children to professionalism. Most need to buy their way there. That is why many set up private institutions and making tons and tons of money where our public institutions degraded badly year after year.

    Agreed with Tok Cik that migrating is not helping but what can children who don’t stand a chance with the current educational system do. Most left for the betterment of their children education beside seeking employment.

    Tok Cik may also realised that our children may not be able to afford a decent house now. Come a day they may not even afford a decent education for their children.

    What BN did for the past 55 years cannot be corrected in 5 to 10 years. It needs at lease 2 generations before being deem successful.

    Tok Cik, I shared your agony but time don’t wait. If we stayed we are dead.

  12. rosiah @11:15pm of 29 Mar,

    rosiah, you should know better that these people who migrated are losers who will never be happy with anything and keep blaming the surrounding environment for their situations created by themselves. I say, they should have stayed in Malaysia and worked hard to change things here from the inside – read Gene Sharp book From Dictatorship to Democracy as suggested by one smart comentator who probably doesn’t believe that Malaysia is democratic enough.

  13. Tok Cik,
    Zam zam ala kazam can say whatever he wants. I will be back in Ipoh to kick his arse along with BN-UMNO. Nah! Enjoy the video

  14. Migratory tendencies are always present in man. Look at how those ten billionaires who have benefitted from our Crony system, have flown away with their money to foreign shores, yet having the advantage of living in ‘ duality ‘ , here and there. Hypocrites ! A lot of Bumis too have done, or dying too, to emulate going to Oz, UK or the West, Argentina & Phillipine….gathering momentum, because they feel they have been left out in their own homeland – its no more their ‘ home ‘ .

    Speaking of migratory habits, why , look how the original inhabitants of OZ, migrating from place to place in the vast Desert land of Australia, like nomads and aboriginal species all over the globe – the only way they know how…..its in their DNA and have found happiness : ” as happy as the Lark….” But advanced Westerners have brought in some different sort ofmeanings to their ‘ happiness ‘

    But natural law prevails all the time, invariably, no matter with man as also in the beastly kingdom : For group survival of the species, the Instinct knows inherently, the same law of nature : no right without obligation, no obligation without right, its always mutual and reciprocal for intra- community survival .

  15. Since this is Easter weekend, i’m not gonna regale you guys on the myriad of reasons why we have such a huge diaspora – of all races, creeds and age groups.

    Just a few days ago, my eldest – who’s working as a consultant in a foreign gomen state agency – asked me frankly whether he should just give up his permanent residency and take up a citizenship that was offered to him, so that he could transfer to work at the federal level (not Singapore, ok?). Besides the higher salary and perks, i asked him to consider the move of surrendering his Malaysia citizenship. Yesterday, he called up and decided that he’ll hang on for a little while more – not because he had faith in the system, as it stands – but because he had Hope.

    Many of us who were born, bred and hope to die here – love this country with all it’s warts and festering sores to bits. It is indeed very few, who would surrender unless self interest exceeds emotional attachment. Some have no choice, but all want to return – if only for a while.

    The Russians call this concept Rodina – Motherland. What should we, Malaysians – local and abroad, call this yearning? Nasi Lemak-Sambal?

    My Message here is simple. Being a Christian requires 3 cardinal virtues: Faith, Hope and Love. Sometimes faith can be restored – but hope and love is eternal.

  16. This is a globalised world. After regime change , you can always come back to invest, work etc. Does not matter even if you have given up your citizenship.
    We just need talented people to contribute to betterment of the society.

  17. My three kids all graduated with B.Acc (Hons) from University of Queensland and qualified for the CPAs… now they are all working and happy working in Brisbane and Sydney… earning much more than they could ever dreamed of if back in Bolehland… they are not coming back, that I know. My daughter, after a year of working, could afford a 2-year old used VW Beetle (its yellow too, dad!) which I think should cost around RM110K here so if you are earning RM1800 per month, how to afford? She’s earning AUD48,000 per year after tax as a finance analyst in a mining company… The only thing they miss (my boys) is roti canai banjir and even then they say its not the same anymore since the Banglas took over from the mamaks…. so what is there in Malaysia, Dato?

  18. Most of the parents with children staying in other countries will not vote for BN in this coming GE as these parents are missing their children , and to some their grand children too . They blame BN for causing their children to stay in other countries .

    Some of them are too old to travel to visit their children overseas because of health problem. Most of them have to face the agony of thinking that they will most likely leave this world without their children beside them . That is why you see some of these parents were in the street protects in spite of their age !!!!

  19. you are right in one way Tok Cik but if we had stayed and fought then where would we be today? in Sungei Buloh or six foot under, shot as enemies of the state or simply as robbers? maybe some find it appropriate to call us cowards but as already mentioned by Abnizar the quest to find better prospect and ‘breeding ground’ for one’s children is a basal instinct of every human being. sedentary life forms like plants develope ingenious methods to deposit their seeds as far away as possible.
    I have been living abroad since 35 years, I’ve made two attempts to come back and settle down in Malaysia and each time I managed to hold on only for about 4 years before the reality sinks in. I visit Malaysia nearly every year, the euphory of the first week slowly wanes on hearing all the lies and deceits and crimes of the ruling class, that after four weeks I’m filled with melancholy having to leave the land of loving people.
    as human beings our only precious asset in this world during our short stay is ‘the human dignity’ which should not be classed according to race, skin colour or religion.
    like the salmon which comes back to its place of origin to die, we too harbour the idea of coming back one day. ce la vie!

  20. @Rosiah: The best answer for you would be to read this extract from steadyaku47’s blogpost

    Do you know that without UMNO you would not be who you are?…..do you think that your chinese friends will create MCKK, allow and help u to study there and then sponsored u to overseas….melayu mudah lupa….otak sempit…

    I received the above comment on my posting “NINA IN UMNO – reprise”
    I would like to reply.
    You say that without UMNO I will not be who I am today.

    Who am I today?

    I am a 65-year-old man living in Australia – in retirement. I migrated to Australia almost 40 years ago and arrived in Perth with AUD $120 in my pocket, a pregnant wife and one daughter. We did not know any one in Perth. Apart from that Aud$120 (One Hundred and twenty dollars!) I did not take anything else from Malaysia into Australia except what we carried with us on the flight.
    MCKK? The British established MCKK!

    Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) is the first fully residential school in Malaysia. Established on 2 January 1905, it was originally known as the Malay Residential School of Kuala Kangsar.

    The school was the brainchild of R J Wilkinson, inspector of schools for the Federated Malay States. In a letter to the resident-general dated 24 February 1904 he wrote about “establishing at a suitable locality in the F.M.S., a special residential school for the education of Malays of good family and for the training of Malay boys for admission to certain branches of Government service”.

    W Hargreaves, headmaster of Penang Free School, was appointed as the first headmaster to lead the establishment of the school. Since 1965, the Malay College has been led by Malay headmasters.
    UMNO has nothing to do with MCKK – not much when I left MCKK in 1965 when I was in Form Five. After MCKK I went to SABS Kuantan where I left with an HSC.

    After SABS I spent a year at the University where I failed miserably – too miserably to even repeat my first year – and my Father, at his own expense, sent me to Ealing Tech where I proceeded to do what I did at Uni in KL – failed again miserably in my studies. I married a Greek girl at 21 (the most successful of all my adult undertaking as I am still with her today – she at 68 and me at 65) and went back to KL after four years in London still with only my HSC but armed with fours year of living on my own in London.

    Again all this with no help from UMNO! And certainly no help from any Chinese friends.
    Then I started my working life.
    With help from UMNO!
    My first job was with MNI – Malaysia National Insurance.

    Ask any insurance executive and he or she will tell you how MNI has grown to be as big as it is today. You get business from Petronas, from State Governments, from the Federal Governments from any government related business and from bumiputra businesses who have been ‘reminded’ by UMNO to do business with MNI. Here was where I first learn to do business by command. The command comes from the UMNO led Barisan Nasional government that government related businesses MUST DO BUSINESS with MNI. No competitive quotes, nothing to do with servicing your clients, nothing to do with how good you are at paying claims – In MNI we learn that we can push our weight around and we will still get business over the other Insurance companies.

    From there it was just a step away from learning about doing business ‘The UMNO way.” Rent seeking using Ali Baba companies, political patronage, cronyism or simply outright embezzlement of public funds, which is the much-preferred way of doing business the ‘UMNO way’.
    Let me tell you how I made RM$100,000 the UMNO way. Follow me on this:
    You cannot bring in construction workers from China – it is prohibited. I had a request from a Chinese Contractor who wanted to bring in 200 Chinese workers from China for a project in Shah Alam. The Chinese workers did good work for little money. The contractor offered to pay me RM$1000 per worker if I could get exemption from the Government to allow him to do so. To cut a long story short – I approached an UMNO contact who arranged for me to see the Minister in charge and within two weeks semua di atur. The Contractor got his approval to bring in 200 Chinese workers and I got my RM$200K – which I split 50/50 with u know who! There you have it – RM$100K the UMNO way – all done within two weeks!

    Now he tells me “melayu mudah lupa…otak sempit.” If truth be told I would rather forget all that I have learnt from UMNO and free my mind of doing business the UMNO way! I am the better for doing so!
    Today in Australia all that this Australian government do for me is to provide for the comfort of my wife who has dementia and for my life in retirement as I am now 65 and receiving a pension. I live in a compact and decent apartment paying affordable rent (25% of my income) and our quality of life is good. If you read my blog you will know that last week my wife fainted while we were out – the ambulance came within ten minutes and we were taken to the hospital and given all the medical assistance that was required – at no costs to us.
    Now tell me ‘Anonymous’ what will UMNO do for me if I am 65 years old and retired without any means of support with a wife who has dementia? Will they give me a pension? Will they give me free or subsidized medical assistance for my wife and me? Will they give me subsidized housing for which I pay rent at 25% of my income and to which I have right of abode for as long as I want? And did I mention that the apartment I live in is brand new with a tram stop right outside the building – and the building is secured? And all around me I have dozens of restaurants and take-aways, supermarkets, boutiques – all that I and my wife need to make life pleasant!

    No ‘anonymous’ I have nothing to be thankful to UMNO! If anything it is my duty to bring down this insidious political organization that has wreck havoc and much damage to the cultural, racial, religious and economic health of our country. It is the duty of every right thinking Malaysian to do the same because our survival as a nation and as a people depends on us taking out UMNO and denying them any say in the affairs of our Nation.

    Do not ask me to stay in Australia and mind my own business and leave things be in Malaysia!
    Do not ask all us Malaysian that have chosen to live outside Malaysia to mind our own business and ignore what UMNO is now doing to OUR country.
    We may all live overseas but our hearts and passion are still for all things Malaysians. And for as long as we breathe, for as long as I can write, we will do all we can to help change things in Malaysia!
    Not because we intend to come back to stay in Malaysia!
    Not because we want our children to come back to stay in Malaysia!
    And not because we want PKR, DAP or PAS to be in government.
    We do all that we do because we are all in this together. If I have a good life in Australia I want those in Malaysia to have the same life that I am fortunate enough to have here. I do not want Malaysian to be plundered and pillaged by a corrupt and insidious UMNO led government. I do not want a Prime Minister who, in as far as the majority of Malaysian are concerned, have still to be cleared of complicity in the murder of Altanatuya! I want the murder of suspects in MACC and PDRM custody to be stopped. I want a responsible, accountable, open and decent government in Putrajaya. And this is what any decent, rational and decent human being will want for himself and for the people we left behind in Malaysia.

    Now onwards to Putrajaya! ABU!

  21. It is not just the yearning for nasi lemak, roti canai or char kuey teow. It is the familiarity with people and places that you grew up with. Then there is the memories. And of course the many relatives and friends that you have left behind.

    Many people assume that migrating is towards a better place but it involves a lot of personal sacrifices. Nobody migrates for fun but it is out of necessity.

  22. Hahaha.., some of you missed the point completely!
    What i was asking is whether there is such a concept as Mother-Land (not Father-land like the Nazis or Religious bigots), amongst our diaspora?? Some say yes, and have tried their darnest. Others say no, because of yellow bugs.

    Well, some of us are like reeper (the Salmon), others like plankton who drift aimlessly in the blue yonder, until they undergo metamorphosis into the Other.
    Whatever path is chosen the Arrow of Time is irreversible.

    And Dr Phua, i’m not talking about being a globalized enlity – but a emotive sense of Belonging. That many cannot countenance the idea of living perpetually in this country – many will return, if for no other purpose than the cuisine. That’s the human condition.

    Many of us here are caught in two worlds, especially those who still have their assets intact. Some of my friends say to leave, others to stay. So for what it’s worth, yes – it’s ABU!

  23. Migration is serious sacrifice and re learning and starting again, but with bleak avenues and only grit to arm many are doing it. Australia has a lots of governance put in and there is a sense of justice living here. Quite palable. I wish Malaysia’s well and but do not much regret living the land but do miss the sense familiarity the i had. Each time now i go out and come back i am very happy being in sydney.

  24. The sense of alienation you get when you migrate decrease over time when you carve out a new life in a new land and although you and your family change, different, it ultimately is something proud, free.

    But the truth is if his country does not change THIS TIME, then for minorities in this country, the sense of alienation WILL ONLY INCREASE and permanent. It will never change back again and the pride and freedom is always imprisoned, always unjust.

    Its why for this country, multi-culturalism will in the end become a lie if this does not happen..It could be Islamic multi-national but it will never become multi-religo muli-cultural in the long run.

    It does not even matter if in the end, there will be reform at some much later date and the Malays do away with NEP and discrimination. Mahathirism will be a permanent influence that hobbles this country and it will never achieve the potential it can be while the rest of the world who has left it behind long ago rush head long far ahead, Malaysia or Mamaksia never to ever catch up..

  25. Jamal Majid.

    You had explained well the feeling of homesick which I only understood when I left my parent’s home to study my Form Six away from my hometown.

    I have some friends who had migrated to other country 30 years ago mainly for their children education . After all these years when their children had grown up and left them to work at some where else, they have more frequent visits back to Malaysia to meet their relatives and friends . Mind you , some of them still keep their Malaysian Passport . It is not easy to cease the feeling for your homeland.

  26. REcently saw how Western Australia went to the polls, and can all of you imagine that the ballot boxes were made of cardboard boxes recycled from home appliances boxes covered with coloured paper? No security seals or locks etc! Only tells that there is no evil thoughts of cheating or whatever, and certainly very cheap way of doing their elections when everyone involved are doing the right thing!

  27. “Racial, economic, religious and educational gaps are enforced instead of bridged …. – Elza Irdalynna

    The so called New Economic Policy (NEP), yet ungraceful to sacrifices and the suffered. Therefore, leave the house la, not a home for them.

  28. Brave views and counter arguments but all ,in a way, agree the nonsense going on in Malaysia . Keep fighting for our rights and influence your neighbours and friends/ strangers on the need to see the alternate views and values. Write out your views and sent out as fliers to strangers and aquantainces. Always grab the chance to influence alternate thoughts to others. Start the thinking change right now everyone. Speak to the less informed and the poor. Their votes are very very important for democratic changes

  29. The so called New Economic Policy (NEP), yet ungraceful to sacrifices and the suffered. Therefore, leave the house la, not a home for them. Rightway

    Huh, have to be graceful to sacrifice and suffer? Mighty confusing, make my head pusing pusing. Are you thinking in Chinese and writing in English?

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