Sunday, May 07, 2006

Patriotism and the scholarship holder

A love for Malaysia

With interest I read about the recent plead by the new Higher Education minister for Malaysian overseas to come home and seve the nation, especially those on Government schorlarship. As a M'sian studying overseas and on Govt scholarship, I felt obliged to give my two cents' worth on the issue.

For myself, I will definately go back to serve the nation, as I felt it is my responsible to do so. I definately felt scornful and looked down towards those who took the scholarship with the intention to break the bond in the future after graduating. Even now while studying, I deeply felt that we who study under govt scholarship or tax-payer funded scholarship should do our best to repay the faith shown by the govt in us. Even though I must admit a future in the govt sector doesn't look rosy at all at the moment, with low pay, low morale, supposed racial discrimination and back-water technologies, unfulfilled vision (the stagnant Biovalley) etc., we are obliged to go home and serve the nation, as the nation needs us. It may be an act of patriotism or responsibility, but it is morally right to do so.

However, for those under FAMA schorlarship, the grass is always greener on the other side of the field, which I tend to agree. I will not blame them for not going back to M'sia, but I will encourage them to do so. Money may be a big factor, but I believe the lack of chances of personal fulfillment and promotion may be the main cause. Whatever the matter, I do not think that it is a lack of patriotism that restained M'sia best brains for returning home.

Patriotism: how should it be defined? In overseas, there is no barrier for us being patriotic: during Merdeka celebration, Malaysian of all races were there together at Malaysian Hall to meet, interact and have fun together. During the commonwealth games, especially the badminton tournament that i attended, M'sian of all races, even those whom I suspect are Australian raised were there to lend their support to tme M'sian team; eventhough as Chang Yang noted, all of the players are Chinese. They cheered voraciously and waved the M'sian flags energitically throughout the match. During both occasion, the feeling of patriotism hung thickly in the air and I felt really proud to be a Malaysian. What about in M'sia? As a Sarawakian, I felt that racial polarisation does not really exists, but penisular m'sia blew a different air. During my one and half year study in KL, I felt that the racial tension there is far higher than in Swak. Why it is so? I have no idea. Perhaps someone can enlighten me on this.

It is unfair and near-sighted to say those who chose to remain overseas to work are unpatriotic. In fact, I felt that they are essential in uplifting the 'M'sian brand'. They can promote M'sia by excelling in their field of expertise, for example, Jimmy Choo, Michelle Yeoh and Michael Wong. I always felt that a yardstick for patriotism is your interest in Malaysian history and current affairs, even when you are overseas. As a Chinese adage pointed out: 风声雨声读书声,声声入耳;家事国事天下事,事事关心A truly patriotic M'sian will keep in touch with his/her grassroots wherever he/she is. Sadly, I felt that this is lacking in a lot of my scholar friends. They had no idea who Noordin Top is, nor Ghafar Baba. They pay no heed to the Scenic bridge, nor the increase in oil price. We may show patriotism in diffrent ways, but a patriotic M'sian must at least show some care towards the country, irrespective of his or her location. A M'sian living in the bottom of the well somewhere in KL is not more patriotic than a person who lives in UK but kept abreast of all the M'sian current affairs. In fact, I think that the latter is more patriotic.

My post today may be seen as a narrow view of patriotism, as I don't deny patriotism is a multi-facetted outlook . It is hard to define patriotism, or gauge who is patriotic; for example someone may think that serving in the army or instigating a terrorist attack against the USA is a patriotic act. However, I believe as long as you care for your country and feel a burning pride for being born and raised in your country, you can be classified as a patriotic Malaysian.

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