Stifling politics sending more Malaysians to Australia

Freedom from stifling politics appears to be a growing concern among Malaysians who settle in Australia, the Edge Review reported.

And a high number of them were professionals, which the World Bank in 2011 called an “exodus of talent” and warned Malaysia this would pose challenges to the country’s vision of becoming a high-income nation by 2020, the digital weekly said.

Australia was also the first country of choice of 18pc of Malaysian professionals who moved abroad, second after Singapore, according to a report from the Penang Institute last year. While migration to Australia by Malaysians was nothing new, The Edge Review said politics was increasingly becoming a key reason for the shift.

It cited the managing director of a Sydney-based skilled migration and recruitment firm Konnecting, Fred Molloy, who said “applicants are also disillusioned by the political corruption, religious pressures and discrimination against minority groups back home”.

In contrast, “Australia’s political freedom, freedom of expression and quality education look more tempting”, The Edge Review said in an article titled “Why Malaysians love Aussie rules”.

In an interview with an ethnic Chinese Malaysian student there, Putrajaya’s use of the Sedition Act to silence critics and the recent jailing of opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim were signs for the student, Michael, that Malaysia would not welcome those who thought differently.

“One of the biggest things in Australia is freedom to express our opinions.

We don’t get into trouble for it, but the Malaysian government will sentence you under some ridiculous law because you said something that goes against them,” the student was quoted as saying.

Ethnic Chinese have long made up the bulk of Malaysian-born residents in Australia – at 154,000 in 2014 according to the Australia Bureau of Data, said The Edge Review.

This puts Malaysia at third among Southeast Asian countries after the Philippines and Vietnam.

But there were “emerging reports” that a growing number of Muslim Malays were also leaving Malaysia “to escape a shift towards Islamic fundamentalism”, it said.