by Stan CH Lee, a Malaysian in Toronto, Ontario
"For a long time now, we have heard the familiar refrain from the powers that be.
“If you don’t like it here in Malaysia, you can leave.” thundered the UMNOputras and their hangers on in BN. And many did leave. Entire families uprooted and left. Some left because their parents see no future in this country. Some have job offers or scholarships that they will not get in Malaysia simply because of the color of their skin or their political inclinations. Odds are stacked against anyone not aligned with UMNO, Malays included. Brain drain, capital flight, call it what you will. Unpatriotic bunch say the politicians.Traitors, some even labelled us. Good riddance to bad rubbish cried the Little Napoleans. The remarks were biting. The insults no less so.
But here we are- the Malaysian Diaspora. Spread worldwide inconspicuous in their new homes. Showing up recently to be counted when BERSIH called. Man oh man, it was inspiring to see so many come forward when the clarion call sounded.Thanks to the internet, this gave face to the much maligned millions who left not because they wanted to, but because they had to. We love the country no less in our leavng.
We may have left Malaysia physically. But our thoughts and our hearts remain true to the country where we were born and the place we grew up in. Memories remain of bygone days spent with friends from every race, color and creed. These were the moments etched in time - the living inspirations for Lat’s Cartoons which used to tell a tale of a people happy in their skin. A people who have no problem playing together, eating together, living with each other. Calling each other friend, kawan,member, brother or bradder. A time when calling each other names like “Cina Kui”, “Keling Cai” or “Oi Melayu” were done in the spirit of friendship. If you are my friend, you can call me names. No offence meant nor taken.
See what you are missing? Come back lah.
We leave behind friends and sometimes family who envy us. But on hindsight, it is we who envy those we left behind. We leave behind the comforable, easy cameraderie of our colleaques, friends and relatives. Gone are the “drop by anytime” invites that are serious and sincere. Gone are the Golf kakis, Windsurf buddies, Cycle groups, and every imaginable activity groups you can think of. All these groups now taunting you on FB’s “seewhatyoumissed” type posts.
We leave behind familiar places that sing a song of wonderful times shared. We leave behind years of the interwoven fabric of life shared with loved ones, friends and family alike. We leave behind a smorgasboard of mouth watering food often immitated, never matched anywhere – the Nasi lemak prepared as only the corner makcik knows how- the char kuay teow dished out with a swivel and a twist by the coffeeshop uncle, and the firey Mutton Vindaloo served by the grinning mamak .
Nostalgia often hit those who have been away for a while. Even in the “better” land, they long for Malaysia. It is only in their hearts that a true measure of the word “patriotic” should be made. Not by the size nor number of flags you fly. Not by the silence you keep when you see wrongs inflicted on a people.
Leaving the country you love today is no longer “forever” like it used to be. When my father left China for Malaya in the early 1940’s it was more than 40 years before he saw his family again, and he only communicated with them via occasional letters for all that time.
It is a different world today of course. With the internet, you are no longer cut off from interactions with old friends. Skype and a host of other new age tools make sure that you have plenty of face time with those you love. Emails keeps you connected and informed. People still stay in touch with you and you do keep up with and may even be more aware of events in the country than those who chose to stay. It is like you have never left.
Many do take a keen interest in political developments in Malaysia and many are willing to do their part- touched by what they can see that is a total polar opposite of what has been promised by the those who lead us. The shiney, plastic looking 1 Malaysia logo cut out at every streetcorner remains just that - a cut out devoid of life or substance.
Coming back is an option for some, but certainly not under that farcical 1programme (Talent Corp) run by this UMNO crony who wants to lure talented Malaysians back to serve the country. We see no sincerity in that window dressing.
People will come back under their own steam but on their own terms. Lured back, not by the 1promise, which in reality has become a virulent disease that corrupts and ravages the country. But to answer that persistent siren call in their hearts.
The FB pages are filling up with Jom Balik Undi pictures.
The Malaysian Diaspora is on standby. And they will be back.
To save Malaysia.The land that we love.
You can take a man out of Malaysia, but you cannot take Malaysia out of the man.