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And my father said, 'Son don't come home'

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vikraman Male
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  #1 Old 11-04-2009 Default And my father said, 'Son don't come home'

I read this letter sent in to Malaysiakini some time ago and I felt that it is important I share it with all you RECOMers. I couldn't think of a better place to put it in but to create a new thread. Mods, leave it here. This is something all of us should read.

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Sometime in 1980, when I was a final year student in London, I had a very short tele-conversation with my father. In those days, there were no call cards, Skype or the like and calls were expensive. He had a very simple message - 'Son, don?t come home'.
MCPX

Now almost 30 years on, I see where he was coming from.

He advised me to stay on in the UK or if I found the weather not to my liking, told me to go to Australia - even if it meant that I may eventually marry a ?white girl? as he put it. I was 23 and marriage was certainly not on my mind.

He was a pendatang. A pendatang, however, who secured a scholarship to study in Raffles College (the precursor to the University of Malaya) and served some 30-odd years in various senior teaching positions culminating with the last few years in the Malay College Kuala Kangsar.

Amongst his students were past and present ministers and opposition figures. I didn?t heed his advice till last year and spent the last 28 years in Malaysia. However, it became increasingly untenable to work here without compromising my values, integrity and conscience.

Why did he advise me such? With hindsight, I saw his foresight. As an educationist, he saw we were heading to be another Ceylon (from where he was sent here when orphaned), Burma, Philippines and in today's scenario, Zimbabwe.

He saw what the outcome would be when we mix education with politics. He saw that religion would be a divisive factor in years to come (he even encouraged me to learn Jawi as a nine-year-old).

He believed that in a country like this, mixed marriages would help cement society. He saw in some of our leaders of yesterday that even in their youth, they had unbridled cunning and only needed an opening to exploit that trait.

He saw in some of his students a potential to be PM but said that would never be because they were ?too smart for Umno's liking?. He saw that given our racial demographics, religion would be used as a means to ensure the survival of a particular group.

He believed that eventually, the Malays would have a class war amongst themselves. He said that even amongst the Malays, many of the English-educated would opt to live away from Malaysia.

He told me promotions won?t necessarily be given for competence. These are usually won in the ?clubs? (read: the political parties today) and over a few drinks. Being a bit of an introvert myself, he encouraged me to join clubs, associations and play sports and travel.

He said honesty doesn't necessarily pay in this world but it is still better to be honest and live with dignity.

Our home was (at different times) home to three delinquent Chinese boys - sent by the juvenile court. He volunteered to take them in. Add to that, a few other Indian boys as well.

Though not my mother tongue, I spoke to my parents in Malay till I was about 10. We took in a Chinese lady injured during the war and she lived with us for about 40 years till she died. My father referred to her as his mother-in-law. I thought she was my grandmother even though my mother was not Chinese!

By the late 70s and early 80s, he saw that this scenario would not likely repeat in the years to come. When he died in 1982, we were pleasantly surprised to see some of his students (by then in their 50s) came from the different states for his funeral.

One told me that it was my father that made sure he spoke flawless English and another told me how my father would bring the Sixth Formers home from the hostel and used our home for dinner to teach them social graces - including dancing (taught by my mother). Partners were arranged from the Convent school with the blessings of the headmistress!

Twenty-nine years on, I view his foresight through the same prism and now agonise as to whether I should tell my children the same. For now, I am allowing my eldest to pursue his tertiary education overseas.

Maybe when he finishes, he may not be as shortsighted as I was. I pray to God to grant him the wisdom and vision.

Last year, I resigned from my job, returned the company car and driver, said goodbye to my executive package and moved to Australia where I now live with no maid, no driver, no Audi 2.8, no golf, no teh tarik sessions, no bonus, etc.

But I am rediscovering humanity running a humble ice-cream shop. Sometimes we learn very late. - Ice Cream Seller 10 April 2009
Feel free to discuss his letter. When I read it, it brought a tear to my eye as it showed a person who deeply loved his land of birth but was driven away. A warning to the rest of us, lest we forget that action needs to be taken.
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  #2 Old 11-04-2009 Default Re: And my father said, 'Son don't come home'

In my opinion, everywhere is just the same. Sometimes, it's just a matter of bad or worse. Like my case, in Japan, indeed there are many smart people, many of them are just simply (like what the letter above mentioned) unbridled cunning. Where there is stiff competition, people will just tear down each other to move up.
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  #3 Old 11-04-2009 Default Re: And my father said, 'Son don't come home'

This isn't the first time I'm seeing this, and many times my mother has personally told me, "Son, if possible, don't stay here in Malaysia. After pursuing your Bachelor's, aim far, go and do your Masters elsewhere, perhaps in Australia. And once you are settled there, I will follow you."

This is no longer a case of whether you are patriotic towards your country or otherwise. My parents have seen enough of the Malaysian politics, discrimination, etc. etc. that do not provide us with the best quality of life. No doubt for the past forty to sixty years, their lives could have been very difficult. Being just a kid back then, what would I know of the suffering that they had to go through, and the sacrifices they had to make?

Many have said that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, but what is the point of having green grass if you do not even have the chance to graze on it?

In many ways Malaysia is indeed a haven. Many of my lecturers from the UK, France and Canada have expressed their satisfaction about living in Malaysia, except for the political scenario. However, being foreigners they are not really affected as their main purpose here is either to earn a living or to enjoy life.

But we as citizens are quite tired and fed-up of the bickering and other minor, childish issues that happen at the higher rankings. We want a fairer policy and administration which we cannot get, and the society works together only at a facade level. Things are so volatile that riots can just pop up anywhere anytime.

I have recently done a research on May 13 in a book written by Dr. Kua Kia Soong. In it, we can realise for ourselves how our government has been administrating a time-bomb.

So, why stay here and wait for the time-bomb to explode when you could just flee to safety?
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vikraman Male
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  #4 Old 11-04-2009 Default Re: And my father said, 'Son don't come home'

The best part is that the time bomb is not even "naturally occuring". It's specifically created by a group of individuals bent on maintaining their power. Thus making it far more sinister and manifold harder to disarm.
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  #5 Old 11-04-2009 Default Re: And my father said, 'Son don't come home'

aaaa...the simple life.my dream....
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  #6 Old 11-04-2009 Default Re: And my father said, 'Son don't come home'

I felt the same way as you do when I read the article on M'kini, vikraman. It is really sad to read that story, and I kept on thinking of ways to 'solve' the political situation, but there appears to be none to me. *sigh*
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  #7 Old 11-04-2009 Default Re: And my father said, 'Son don't come home'

Hmmm, i usually just read but don't comment on issues like this... but I think the letter reflect the sad state of affairs nowadays. When i read news about Malaysia's brain drain n about ppl not returning, when i was much younger and naive, i used to think why were people so unpatriotic.

Like u mentioned, vikraman, there are people who love this country but have been driven out because they cannot bear any longer to watch their beloved country deteriorate further.
I once read this quote...n i think it sums up the author of the letter very well....

" I love my country better than my family, but I love humanity better than my country"
Francois Fenelon
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  #8 Old 12-04-2009 Default Re: And my father said, 'Son don't come home'

Gentlemen (and ladies if there are any in this thread), the worst thing for you to do is to lose hope. If all of us were like that then we would never make any progress at all. Slavery would never be abolished, the Jews would probably nothing more than just a memory, Obama would never become president. It's only with hope that we can change and it's the driving force that enables humans to survive even the most extreme conditions.

People is changing this is shown in the last general elections as well as the latest by elections in Kedah and Perak. Keep up the momentum and probably the next 4 years we would see a total change.

If Malaysians don't change the country then who else? Americans took 150 years to shift to a Black president, who knows for Malaysians, it could take maybe 50 years? We may not live to see it but if we start now we will encourage others who have the same mindset to follow.

Never lose hope ladies and gentlemen.
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  #9 Old 12-04-2009 Default Re: And my father said, 'Son don't come home'

Wow, Im really touched by this article. Maybe I havent felt the full brunt of the Malaysian political system since Im only an SPM leaver. Nevertheless, I understand that sometimes we get sidelined and rejected just because we are of a different "race". I don't think this happens in any other country in the world other than Malaysia. Where is meritocracy nowadays? But I will see and wait....maybe there is still hope for Malaysia.
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  #10 Old 12-04-2009 Default Re: And my father said, 'Son don't come home'

I agree with neutral_pH. Our country is deteriorating. If we leave, we are giving up the hope to rebuild our country. If all the bright-minded people who are said to be far sighted opt to stay in overseas, who else here would serve in Malaysia? It would fall to the hands of people who are less capable, worsening the condition of Malaysia.

My teachers and I have discussed about the issue before. Instead, they told me I have to come back in case the countries fall into the hands of the wrong group. We are citizens of Malaysia. If we leave because we think our country is hopeless, who else will stay to help?

Maybe I'm too young to comment on whether there exists humanity in Malaysia. But I think China is worse. There are people there who will con you to earn a living. Look at the issue of the tainted baby milk product? In Thailand, I have heard of cases where free gifts are given to tourists and it's also these free gifts that they are accused of shoplifting at the custom. Comparing it this way, perhaps there is still hope to revive Malaysia.
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