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!)
• 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
• 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,
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.