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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Malaysian exports and expats



I see that the tirelessly self-praising Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak bragged to an audience of farmers and fisherfolk this past week that he is “personally responsible” for the recent rapid rise in exports of Malaysian-grown durians to China.
And in case this wasn’t enough to convince these primary producers to keep supporting his ever-ruling Umno/BN regime, he also typically announced that he was giving the whole group of them a cash handout.


Apparently at least some of the recipients of this prime ministerial largesse found it pretty impressive. And none so much as chairperson of the National Farmers Association (Nafas) and also BN assemblyperson, Saipolbahari Suib, who expressed tremendous gratitude for Najib’s support and declared that farmers and fishermen are ready to be ‘used’ by him.
“Use us, we are ready to give the best for your leadership,” Malaysiakini reported him as pledging, “We have received so much we will always remember your contributions”.
However, most Malaysiakini readers who commented on this story saw Najib’s so-called “contributions” as nothing but cons, considering that not only is the value of Malaysian exports of durians to China peanuts compared with those from Thailand to China, but that increasing exports of the best Malaysian durians has priced them beyond the reach of local consumers.
And, as I couldn’t help commenting myself, Najib and his Umno/BN regime have made Malaysia smell like durians in the nostrils of the whole wide world by permitting, if not colluding, in the export to the US and elsewhere of countless billions of ringgit allegedly plundered from 1MDB.


All of this in addition, of course, to all the other billions extorted for decades from public funds, overpriced public projects and the nation’s publicly-owned oil, timber and other resources, which have been exported to secret overseas bank accounts or money-laundering real-estate and other investments.
In fact I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if dirty, smelly money wasn’t by far Malaysia’s biggest export.  
And thus, given that legal and other civil institutions including elections have been designed to ensure that this dire situation doesn’t change anytime soon, if ever, I see the point of Zaid Ibrahim’s recent exhortation to Malaysians desiring a decent future to export themselves and their children to someplace more promising.
Seeking greener pastures
Actually Zaid (photo), for some reason best known to himself, suggested London as the optimal destination for Malaysians to export or expatriate themselves to.


And personally I find it hard to argue with this, as that’s where my elder son headed for when he exited Australia in search of more exciting professional opportunities twenty or so years ago, and where I make excursions as often as possible to visit him and his family.
But of course there are plenty of perfectly acceptable alternative possibilities, and selfishly I’d suggest that one of them is Australia, and even more specifically Sydney.
This, after all, is where I chose to bring my Ipoh-born wife and KL-born daughter when I extricated them from Malaysia way back in 1997.
And, as I wrote in a 2007 Malaysiakini column titled “Another brain down the drain”, and another in 2010 called “Advance Austrasia Fair”, they seem pretty happy to be here.
There are lots of other Malaysians I’d be delighted to see settled in Sydney too, as it would save me making trips back to Umno/BN’s unpleasant version or rather perversion of Malaysia for the pleasure of seeing them.
Old friends like Jaya and JesuisAnwar, for example, to anonymously mention two of many who, for obvious political reasons, I won’t risk more accurately identifying.
But it’s some small consolation in their absence to meet ex-Malaysians like the doctor at a major Sydney hospital who treated me so expertly for my latest medical emergency last week, and who turned out to have been imported here at the age of eight by parents who hailed from Klang and Penang.
As delighted as I always am to meet such Malaysian exports and expats, however, I have lots of sympathy for those who would like to leave the mess that Umno/BN have made of their beloved country, but for one reason or another just can’t.


And I have not only sympathy but also the greatest respect for those most admirable of Malaysians who deliberately choose not to abandon their homeland to the mercies of Umno/BN, but stay there and fight for it, in many cases at extreme personal and professional cost.
And I consider that the very least I can do from a distance is to help these stand-and-fight Malaysians as much as possible in their ceaseless efforts to politically execute the excruciating Umno/BN regime, and finally render it extinct.

DEAN JOHNS, after many years in Asia, currently lives with his Malaysian-born wife and daughter in Sydney, where he coaches and mentors writers and authors and practises as a writing therapist. Published books of his columns for Malaysiakini include ‘Mad about Malaysia', ‘Even Madder about Malaysia', ‘Missing Malaysia', ‘1Malaysia.con’ and ‘Malaysia Mania’.- Mkini

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