“You know-lah”


The other day, I was waiting for a train. It was late by more than half an hour and crowds were already milling around on the platform. An elderly couple stood nearby, wondering what was happening. Before long, the gentleman walked up to me and asked if it was usual for trains here to be delayed. He looked Chinese Malaysian – and yet he didn’t sound Malaysian.

So I asked him if he was local.

He said yes, he used to work with Pernas/Sime Darby, but not anymore. He and his spouse had left the country and had settled in Australia.

I asked him why they had emigrated.

His answer was telling. All he said, rather diplomatically, was, “You know-lah.”

That “you know-lah” spoke volumes. And the sad part was, yes, I did know what he meant, without him having to say anything more. Of course, some leave for greener pastures, but many more leave for obvious reasons.

Whenever we think of migrants, we tend to think of migrants coming in droves to work in Malaysia. But we often forget about Malaysians who have emigrated.

According to the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances Factbook, the stock of emigrants from Malaysia stands at close to 1.5 million as at 2005. That’s 5.8 per cent of the country’s population. And that’s almost as high as the number of immigrants – 1.6 million – in Malaysia. (I presume this refers to documented immigrants only.)

And 10.4 per cent of Malaysians with tertiary education are emigrating. While the government tells us there is a shortage of doctors in our general hospitals, it is alarming to note that 2,211 or 11.9 per cent of physicians trained in the country have emigrated. (I hope it’s not 11.9 per cent in the year 2000 alone!)


Emigration, 2005
• Stock of emigrants: 1,458,944
• Stock of emigrants as percentage of population: 5.8%
• Top 10 destination countries: Singapore, Australia, Brunei, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, India, New Zealand, Japan, Germany.

Skilled Emigration, 2000
• Emigration rate of tertiary educated: 10.4%
• Emigration of physicians: 2,211 or 11.9% of physicians trained in the country

Immigration, 2005
• Stock of immigrants: 1,639,138
• Stock of immigrants as percentage of population: 6.5%
• Female as percentage of immigrants: 41.6%
• Refugees as percentage of immigrants: 2.8%
• Top 10 source countries: Indonesia, Philippines, China, India, Singapore, Thailand, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Sri Lanka.

In comparison, the report for Indonesia shows that only 2 per cent of Indonesians with tertiary education emigrate from their country while only 1.3 per cent of physicians trained in Indonesia leave their homeland.

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Sometimes a decision to migrate does not have to be embedded with negative reasons. If you are inclined to travel and experience while studying or working, so just do it. Migrating to another country doesn’t always due to political, economical or educational failures where we are at present. Please don’t mar the beauty of enriching one’s life with different lifestyle on foreign pastures with ugly comments. Some people like it here, some people don’t! That’s all, no need to be cynical with “You know lah!”


A current classmate of mine was very critical when LGE spoke of removing NEP, because to him, it means the removal of Malays’ special rights. I then asked him “If life under NEP was so damn good here in Malaysia, why is it your relatives who migrated to UK never came back?” On my part, this BN govt wont be getting any services from my intellect after I am done with my studies here. If they think that a 15 sen reduction for every litre of petrol is enough to buy my approval, I’m too expensive for that because I’ll… Read more »


Due to these reasons I left Malaysia almost 12 years ago and I live happily ever after in great britain with fairness and plenty of opportunities. my fellow malaysian, please do the right thing for the sake of your children’s future before it is too late. I know it is hard initially but you will thank god and yourself for doing the right thing.

valayatham ramanair

Why even young professionals migrate? My neighbour who falls into this category is angry with the schooling system. His 10 and twelve year olds go to a sekolah rendah kebangsaan. Most of the teachers in his children’s school begin their lessons islamic salutations and a simple prayer. Th non muslim children feel they are irrevelent because for the teacher they are like not important at all. And of course the muslim students respond to the teacher . The non muslim students just keep quiet. Is this the way a primary school system function. So he has decided to to look… Read more »

Ari Babak

Anil, Can you do a research on the number of Malaysians working overseas ? The findings should be more interesting and illuminating.


Malaysians emigrate
Like those 1001 Arabian Nights stories
It never ends…….
The next generation will follow the steps

Malaysians emigrate
All because about money and opportunities
The quick buck and the fair playing field
They think they can make it big

Malaysians emigrate
Painting glory of the other sides
Cari makan senang
They don’t want to fight
In the country of their birth

They say they can’t win
Why waste time dreaming about it?
So Malaysians emigrate
Telling Arabian Night stories

Malaysians emigrate
All because about money and opportunities
And those 1001 Arabian Night stories


U KNOWLAH…………..I wonder why the malays still want to migrate to countries like uk,usa,canada and nz knowing very well that most of those countries consider christianity as their official religion, furthermore you can hear every now and then the UMNO led BN always condemn those countries for being anti islam.No one would leave Malaysia had the word BUMIPUTRA not exist.The right people to ask are the Malays themselves….


Why Malaysians migrate. (From New Straits Times (Malaysia)) Byline: Balan Moses MIGRATION, for many non-Bumiputeras, is simply history repeating itself. Most feel they are merely taking the route their forefathers did in coming to Malaya from China, India or Sri Lanka for a better future. For the very few Malays who have decided that their destiny lies on foreign soil, largely due to family ties, the move is so much more daunting. While the Chinese or Indian may still have emotional links with the land of their ancestors which may muffle the effect of migration, it is much more complex… Read more »