Mavis: Reading Sharifah Munirah’s piece, I wonder who and what percentage of the populace have the means and opportunity to leave the country.
It is usually the rich who already have their foreign PRs (permanent resident status) in their pockets and the means to leave… and people like Azman, by ‘accident of birth’ (who were born in a foreign land).
I really respect those who stayed on even when they could have easily left – and often these people do it for love of the motherland and for the sake of the majority who can’t leave.
Azman: I like the term “accident of birth”!
Saras: Mavis, about the “love of the motherland”, the writer answers that too. How long do we fight? Frankly, when it comes to our children, if we can, we would want the best opportunities for them.
Ask any parent. I know of many parents (some of them my students) who have used whatever little means they could spare to get their children away. Many of my students (those who were in college) have found a more affordable avenue via Singapore.
Yes. It is sad that the poor have little choice. It is a harsh reality of life. Yet, if we can, we must improve their talents. Luck needs a helping hand. I already see some NGOs doing their part.
Hashim: How long do we fight is one question. The next question – one that I have had to grapple with my children – is, what right have we to demand that our children continue the fight?
Saras: It has to be their choice. If the ‘motherland’ had treated them kindly and with love, they would never want to leave. My children have chosen not to return.
I, on the other hand, have different feelings. My country had been good to me, even if it was in the past. If things change, the children may want to return.
Mavis: Yes, we can’t demand that of anyone, not even our own children. Both my kids are overseas, but they know I’ll be happy if they came back or work to improve things in Malaysia from wherever they are (and) be involved in bringing about the change they want to see in Malaysia.
Most people I know rave and rant, gripe and groan about things going wrong here when it negatively affects them or their family, directly or personally – and sometimes it spurs them into action.
But there are those who have been doing human rights work for decades, including speaking truth to power. They have been doing it for the sake of the oppressed and marginalised who are powerless themselves. We need to continue to encourage and support this.
Anyway, the grass is not always greener on the other side.
How long do we fight? I remind myself regularly that it will always be a work in progress – so I am cautiously optimistic, with realistic expectations. I believe the ‘fight’ has been going on from before I got into it and will continue even after I leave it (laughs).
Hashim: Two responses, Mavis:
One, for those I have spoken to, it is less about the grass being greener, but more about wanting an even chance, which they don’t get here.
Two, what do you do when you fight for the oppressed and marginalised, but they continue to see their oppression based on their ethnicity. I am talking about the poor Malays here who see their oppressors as non-Malays, and their liberators being ‘Bossku’ and his like?
Mavis: Point taken, but not sure about the “even chance”. Two of my brothers are lawyers in New Zealand. They are still facing discrimination in the employment sector, although they are happy with other things related to the quality of life.
I think the poor Malays are changing – maybe not fast enough. I see PSM [the Socialist Party of Malaysia] doing good work there.
Malik: The blaming of the ‘other’ is not only confined to the poor Malays. Even some so-called educated Malays who are financially secure succumb to the Umno mantra.
Anyway, I would think that not all of the poor Malays blame people outside of their ethnic collective for the misery they face.
Mavis: I agree.
Saras: Mavis, I really hope that they (the poor Malays) are changing. I really … really hope so. I want my country back.
I want our children to think about coming back. They know that life is so much better at home with family, but they do not want to suffer the daily dose of idiocy from our so-called leaders! We all will want our children to come back.
I want the foreign investors to come back too. I want our homegrown start-ups to feel safe and prosper. I want them to come and spread the wealth here in a productive way instead of prospering other countries.
Why oh why can’t they all see the duplicity of these leaders – whether they are poor or well-to-do Umnocrats? Even poor Indians fall into the BN trap – it is not just the Malays. Why can’t they see they are being manipulated?
Hashim: Sorry Malik, regarding your comment about the “blaming of the other”, I didn’t mean to blame the poor Malays only.
Yup, many middle and upper-middle-class ones also follow the Umno way. Though, perhaps, for reasons different from the poor ones, both urban and rural.
Saras: For contracts!
Mavis: And what about the non-Malay enablers of BN? The whole or full picture is not so easily racially categorised and labelled.
Hashim: Related but different context and category. We were talking about Malays blaming the ‘other’ instead of seeing the real ones exploiting and oppressing them.
Mavis: But I have seen the concept of “bersyukur” being drummed into the students at my university for years, especially when [we had a certain] VC [vice-chancellor]. The cultural and religious brainwashing is hard to undo.
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