I will never trade it for another country

Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi

If the principles of jus soli were strictly enforced in the country, I wouldn’t even be registered as a citizen of Malaysia. Thirty-one years ago, my father was working for a multinational corporation based in the Sillicon Valley and he brought his young bride along. I suppose I was conceived during this time. I was born in San Jose, California in the United States.

I even have a US birth certificate and a US passport (expired in 1988) to boot. The US recognises dual citizenship so I have no doubt that I am already recognised as a citizen of the US. But because my parents had the foresight to register me at the US Embassy in Washington, DC using Borang W, I became a Malaysian citizen at birth. My father could have made the decision to stay. But he didn’t. He came home to Malaysia with his family in tow.

I grew up in a middle-class family and was for most of my life based in Penang, having been enrolled into a private school (Sekolah Sri Inai). The majority of students were non-Muslim Chinese, I was only one of the very few Muslim students around in the whole school.

Regardless, I had a lot of inter-racial contact and I count a lot of non-Muslims and Muslims alike as among my closest friends during this time period. Back when we were children, the issue of race and religion did not count for much, not even during the 1990s.

However, my father decided to enrol me into a government school, where the racial balance was rather skewed and I saw some form of racism first-hand. There was even discrimination against me, even though I am constitutionally-defined as a Malay (although today, I do not see myself as such). Moving on to secondary school, I began to make more friends as I grew accustomed to the culture surrounding me and my family.

I was overwhelmingly pro-Umno throughout my earlier student years and saw everything through their lenses. Then 1998 came, when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was unjustly sacked and publicly humiliated, under dubious circumstances.

This incident forced me to start seeing things through a wider lens. I learned over the years of the pervasive corruption within Umno, the excesses of their leaders and their unjust treatment of Malaysians — and even the Malays, those whom they claim to be protecting.

I started to read up and learn about Islam, eventually embracing my religious roots and realised that the only way to achieve universal peace is through the justice of political Islam.

Fast forward to today, the political climate is far different from what it was during the 1990s. Barisan Nasional/Umno is now widely seen as corrupt and unjust, manipulating race issues for their political gain.

The wealth of their leaders is unaccounted for, their continuous disregard for the livelihoods of the rakyat even more evident in the past decade. The economy is being managed badly and social problems such as baby dumping, promiscuous sex among teenagers and crime are on the rise and unlikely to be reduced significantly for as long as the current government remains in power.

With all these known excesses and problems in Malaysia, why am I still here? Why have I remained in Malaysia? I could have just as easily moved to the United States , where I would be welcomed as a citizen and, unlike others who choose to leave, have the right to vote and participate in the political process.

I remained in Malaysia because I believe that to achieve change, the only way to do it is with political change and that must begin with oneself. I translated this into action when I registered as a life member of the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) in 2007.

This belief would not have changed, even if the political tsunami of 2008 did not happen and the tripartite opposition did not make significant gains. Whining and groaning and voting with your feet will not bring about change, it will only bring further apathy to those who stayed behind. The lack of patriotism from those who discarded their vote should not be a reason for anyone to leave the country and never come back.

On a personal note, I am doing reasonably well with my own SEO/Internet business and consistently obtaining clients from the US and the UK/Europe. Although there may be a higher income if I were to leave the country and start living elsewhere, the cost of living in other countries is relatively higher than what it currently is in Malaysia.

Also, I believe that my wife would be able to wear the hijab freely in public, and I will be free to practise Islam openly, without anyone on the street harassing us or calling us “terrorists.” Despite what one may be led to believe, xenophobia and religious bias is not absent in the US, the UK, Europe or anywhere else.

Malaysia is my home, and for better or for worse I will never trade it for another country.

This article was published in The Malaysian Insider, May 2011.

9 Responses

  1. news
    news August 29, 2017 - الثلاثاء 08 ذو الحجة 1438 at 3:38 am | | Reply

    Hi there, the whole thing is going perfectly here and ofcourse every one is sharing facts, that’s truly good, keep up writing.

  2. download
    download August 29, 2017 - الثلاثاء 08 ذو الحجة 1438 at 5:16 am | | Reply

    Awesome! Its genuinely awesome post, I have got much clear
    idea concerning from this piece of writing.

  3. Piano Dealer
    Piano Dealer September 3, 2017 - الأحد 12 ذو الحجة 1438 at 3:36 am | | Reply

    Hello, yup this paragraph is really nice and I have learned lot of things
    from it regarding blogging. thanks.

  4. 黒田
    黒田 September 3, 2017 - الأحد 12 ذو الحجة 1438 at 12:13 pm | | Reply

    正義感が実に強く、社会への順応性に優れている。

  5. آشپزی
    آشپزی September 6, 2017 - الأربعاء 15 ذو الحجة 1438 at 12:38 am | | Reply

    Great article.

  6. i ndo togel
    i ndo togel September 23, 2017 - السبت 03 محرم 1439 at 6:35 pm | | Reply

    Howdy! Quick question that’s completely off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My site looks weird when browsing from
    my iphone4. I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to fix this problem.
    If you have any suggestions, please share. Many thanks!

  7. no togel hk
    no togel hk September 24, 2017 - الأحد 04 محرم 1439 at 11:47 am | | Reply

    Hеy there! I just would like to offer yoս ɑ big thumbs up for the great
    info you have got here on this post. I’ll be returning
    to your site for more soon.

  8. hongkong pengeluaran
    hongkong pengeluaran September 24, 2017 - الأحد 04 محرم 1439 at 2:33 pm | | Reply

    Hello, all iѕ going nicely here and ofcօurse every one is sharing informatiօn,
    that’s in fact fine, keep up wгiting.

  9. 黒田
    黒田 October 10, 2017 - الثلاثاء 21 محرم 1439 at 12:48 pm | | Reply

    正義感がおもいきり強く、社会への柔軟性に富む。

Leave a Reply