The recent disclosure of immigration figures cited by Deputy Home Affairs Minister Datuk Tan Chai Ho in the Star (11 July) is interesting. It appears that 106,000 Malaysians surrendered their citizenship between 1996 and April this year. 70% or 79,100 were Malays, 25,107 Chinese, 1,347 Indians and 350 of other races.
Initially I thought that figure too small, but on second thought it’s probably correct because many Malaysians who immigrated have been known to maintain dual citizenships. However the ethnic composition of those who have given up citizenship is revealing. The perception has been that the majority of those uprooting were non-Malays, primarily Chinese. Not anymore. At least according to official stats, Malays make up a big chunk of the total.
The news report also mentioned that the top five destinations of ex-Malaysians were the United States, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia.
So why do people leave? For greener pastures of course.
For non-Malays, usually it’s the desire to live in a country where there’s greater personal freedom, more opportunities, no institutionalised racism to speak of. This list of preferred destinations alone is a hint. That Islamic countries (btw, Indonesia is secular) do not figure at all in most people’s consideration – including and especially the Malays – can only hint at the unmentionable.