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Five reasons to return home

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians generally have a poor perception of working at home. Some think that the pay is not good, the cost of living is high, the transportation services are inefficient and the traffic is horrible.

However, those who are abroad often view things differently. Some say Malaysia is not all that bad for building a career and a future.

Here are five reasons why Malaysians abroad should come home:


1) Not easy getting a job overseas

The ideal path most parents would advise is to get good grades, get a scholarship, go overseas and get a job there because it pays better.

While this is a good path, the reality is not everyone succeeds.

While Australia is ideal in terms of distance from home and climate, getting a job there is quite hard unless you are an Australian citizen, or hold permanent resident (PR) status. Furthermore, employers in Australia are not too keen on hiring fresh graduates who have no track record and no experience whatsoever.

Kng Zhi Xuan, a graduate from Australia, points out that the best way “is to get work experience back home, go back for a Master's degree in a few years and apply for a job then”.

“Together with many of my friends, we tried to apply for work after we completed our degrees.

Most times we were rejected before the first interview because we did not have PR status. Some were lucky to be offered a job. Even then it was because they were the top few in a class of 40-50 people. In the end, most of us came back,” says Kng, who is a graduate in actuarial science.

It’s a different situation in Malaysia however. As a growing country, in terms of economy and technology, Malaysia offers plenty of job opportunities, especially for fresh graduates.


2) Locals view you as competition

“Australia is friendly but not all that friendly,” admits Dr Lau Ron Hsien, who completed part of his studies in Australia.

“I guess people are tolerable towards foreigners if they know you are only there temporarily. But if you’re there for the long run and join the work force, you become part of the competition and people tend to treat you a little differently,” he says.

This scenario is not peculiar to Australia; it's the same in almost every other country. Even in New Zealand, there are some concerns among the locals as more international talents make the move across from Australia and other countries, making the search for employment more competitive.


Emilio Vergara Emilio Vergara

3) Harder to adapt abroad

In addition, there is also the fact that not all Malaysians can adapt to life abroad. The Asian culture of staying up till late, be it for work or relaxation, is simply not practised by westerners.

In Malaysia, if you get hungry in the middle of the night, you have a choice of where to eat, from fast food restaurants to 24-hour mamak shops and even burger stalls. This is something a lot of Malaysians miss when they are away from home.

“The lifestyle there is very different and it takes a lot of getting used to. Take Australia, for example. It’s a pretty quiet place. Even the city centres are not that lively. At least in Malaysia, you have the option of hanging out with friends after a long day’s work. In Australia it’s probably just the bars,” says Dr Lau.


4) Malaysia still the best for opportunities

We are a developing country and there are a lot of things that are still considered uncharted territory. And this is perfect for the risk-takers who see an opportunity for growth at every corner.

As a corporate man in a growing property development company, Emilio Vergara believes that growth opportunity for business in this country is very high.

“This is an emerging economy and everything should be heading upwards. Because of that, there is a lot of business potential for everyone. This is the era for new business, new ideas and new concepts.

Ng Yen Lim Ng Yen Lim

“I also believe that there are a lot of possibilities to bring home new ideas and practices from developed countries in order to try and improve the lifestyle of fellow Malaysians. That is why I think those abroad should come home to set up shop,” says Vergara.

Bringing in new ideas from developed countries and bringing back the experience is exactly what Malaysia needs right now.

Ng Yen Lim, a budding entrepreneur, agrees with Vergara. He believes that returning home is always the best in terms of “doing your own thing” because Malaysians would be comfortable and familiar with the environment.

“For me, starting up a business here is always the best. It’s the place I’m familiar with the most in terms of context, demographic and people’s behaviour. Knowing all of this equips me with the best tools to start up a business, especially since we are very much a young and relatively unexposed country,” says Ng.


5) The food and festivities

Everybody knows that even though you can get Malaysian food and celebrate the festivities abroad, nothing beats what you get at home.

If you crave Indian or local Malay cuisine, it’s here in Malaysia where you’ll find the best.

Think banana leaf rice and you’ll know where in the neighbourhood to get the best banana leaf rice that comes with the right amount of spices, curries and fried chicken to go along with it.

For Mithra Thuraisingam who is pursuing her Master's degree in biopharmaceuticals in London, it was really hard to find decent yet affordable banana leaf rice there. In fact, it became a real challenge.

“The variety we get back home, you can never find it anywhere. Not only Asian food, but the various types of foods as well. After living away, it seems like total value for money. Disregarding the price factor, the taste back home is simply heavenly too.

“With regards to festivities, we may have too many national holidays and festivities but after being abroad, you will realise the Hari Raya open house, mandarin oranges and yee sang for Chinese New Year gatherings as well as the Deepavali food galore and ear-punishing firework displays are amazing! The warmth and joy of looking forward to festivities is never the same anywhere else because nowhere else is it as multi-ethnic,” adds Mithra.

For Diandra Nunis, a communications practitioner who studied in Liverpool and is now back in Malaysia, being with the family on occasions like this is what really matters. She says, “The festive seasons back home are uncomparable.”


Conclusion

“They say we have too many shopping malls, but I would rather go to a mall on a hot day then roam the streets because here in London, there aren’t many shopping malls; it’s all shops and streets,” says Mithra.

The avid sports fan admits that nothing makes her long for home more than sitting and watching sports with fellow Malaysians.

Despite our differences, Malaysians always come together to cheer on our athletes when it comes to sports.

“The grass may be greener on the other side but nothing beats home. Stuff like looking forward to the mamak corner after a long working day instead of kebab and chips makes my day,” sums up Mithra.

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