• 7828 individuals who won’t be spending Chinese New Year this year as Malaysians

    Opinion piece by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 5th of February, 2016

    7828 individuals who won’t be spending Chinese New Year this year as Malaysians

    The exodus among those going back to their hometowns to celebrate Chinese New Year has already begun. I’ll be staying put here in Selangor and enjoying the traffic, or the lack thereof. This year, however, I’ll be celebrating CNY with a little bit of a heavy heart due to a self-inflicted wound. One of the things I do every 3 months is to examine the quarterly electoral roll updates. To check on the number of newly registered voters, those who have changed their voting address and those who have been struck off the electoral roll. Recently, I was alerted by a colleague that a number of Malaysians have been taken off the electoral roll because they have been stripped of their citizenship (In BM: Dilucutkan kewarganegaraan). My curiosity was piqued. Were these individuals on some sort of terrorist watchlist which necessitated the removal of their citizenship? Were they guilty of some heinous crime such as treason? I had to investigate further.

    My findings were surprisingly and saddening. Firstly, I found that 7828 individuals who had lost their eligibility to vote because they were no longer citizens. These individuals were removed from the electoral roll in 2014 and 2015. As a comparison, the Returning Expert’s Program (REP) under Talentcorp managed to attract 3600 Malaysians to return home over the past four years.[1] This figure understates the number of Malaysians who have given up their citizenship over the past two years. It does not include those who have given up their citizenship but were never registered on the electoral roll. It almost certainly excludes those who have given up their Malaysian citizenship and have taken up citizenship in countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the other usual migration destinations for Malaysians. This list of names are almost certainly Malaysians who have given up their citizenship for Singapore citizenship because of the strictly enforced requirement that Malaysians who take up the Singapore citizenship needs to officially give up their Malaysian citizenship within a stipulated time.[2]

    Given the country of destination, it is not surprisingly that a majority of the 7828 individuals are Chinese (96.7%). The rest were Indians (2.7%), Malays (0.4%) and others (0.2%). The largest number of ex-Malaysians come from Johor (36.6%), followed by Perak (19.5%), Selangor (9.4%), WP Kuala Lumpur (6.7%), Melaka (5.6%), Penang (5.4%) and N. Sembilan (5.3%). (See Table 1 below)

    What is saddening is that these are ex-Malaysians who cared enough about the country that they registered as voters but for various reasons, decided to give up their Malaysian citizenship for greener pastures across the causeway. A majority of them also fall into the 30 to 50 age group (80.5%) which means that they are in the most productive years of their working life (See Table 2 below).

    56% of these ex-Malaysians are women while 44% are men. Without additional information, it is hard to gauge the reasons behind this gender difference e.g. the nature of their qualifications and jobs, whether they gave up their citizenship because of marriage reasons and so on.

    Aside from these statistics, what saddened me the most was when I spotted a name on the list which looked familiar. He is almost certainly an ASEAN scholar from my year. A Klang boy, he is now a medical specialist in infectious diseases and currently works in a government hospital in Singapore. His case is but the tip of the iceberg of talented ex-Malaysians who have left the country and are thriving elsewhere.[3] What makes this reality more ‘real’ (and hence, sadder) for me personally is seeing a name which I recognized.

    If any ex-Malaysian is reading this piece, I hope that you haven’t totally given up on our country. Perhaps in the future, when there has been a change in government in Malaysia, you’ll be motivated to come back and contribute in some way. And if you are coming back to Malaysia for Chinese New Year, travel safe and eat well!

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://english.astroawani.com/malaysia-news/about-3-600-malaysians-overseas-have-returned-talentcorp-71312

    [2] http://www.kln.gov.my/web/sgp_singapore/other_information/-/asset_publisher/2TQe/content/renunciation-of-malaysian-citizenship?redirect=%2Fweb%2Fsgp_singapore%2Fother_information

    [3] For a more general report on Malaysians who have taken up Singapore citizenship, read here: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/bidding-farewell-to-malaysia


  1. Linda says: February 5, 2016 at 12:45 pmReply

    Malaysia gov should consider letting malaysians to hv dual citizenship to selected nationalities like u.s, uk, australia, canada. They seek better life in these countries. Its malaysia gov fault that they strip away citizenship from those to got citizenship from other , better, developed countries

  2. Reload Food says: February 5, 2016 at 2:04 pmReply

    Sad story, why stays with a bunch of people who will never listen to the voice of people? You tak suka you keluar statement?

  3. Mah Ka Weng says: February 5, 2016 at 3:58 pmReply

    I am one of the ex-Malaysians above and a regional medical advisor for a MNC pharma companies based in singapore. As one of the statistics included above, I voted for pakatan during last election in selangor. With the arrival of our babies I have decided to give up my citizenship for what is thought to be a better future for them. I believe that singapore is somewhat an interim product of what DAP always believe in – the pursuit of a society that is based on justice, equality and meritocracy. It is saddening that many are like me who received good education and training but are disappointed with the corrupted government and have decided to leave Malaysia for good. Thank you for continue fighting and believing that one day the common values of humanity we believed in will eventually prevail on our motherland and for the great people of Malaysia. I hope that one day when your party has taken over Putrajaya, people like me who have believed in our common values for decades – but had to give up our citizenships for personal/family reasons, will be welcomed home again. Happy Chinese New Year and hope everyone have a great reunion with their families.

  4. Christina Phang says: February 6, 2016 at 1:22 amReply

    Thanks YB for sharing this. I wanted you to know that I’m one of the many Malaysians who has firmly decided to stay so that I can effect some in whatever small way I can.


  5. leong says: February 7, 2016 at 1:53 amReply

    Dear Dr Ong,

    The Malaysian government has given up on its people not the ex-Malaysians.
    Regardless of the change of government in future for Malaysia or not, I whole-heartedly wish
    all Malaysians well and continue to prosper whenever and wherever possible.

    Nevertheless I will continue to visit my beloved hometown regularly for my relatives and friends.

    All the best to you Dr Ong as an MP for the people. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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