MORE than 20,000 Malaysians migrated to Australia from 2010 to 2015, and while they are not officially required to disclose their reasons for doing so, better education for their children and quality family life were cited as the main reasons.
These were the key factors for home-maker Lynn, 39, who migrated to Perth in 2012 and has lived there since.
Quality education in Malaysia would have cost them a fortune, she said, and neither would they have had time to spend with the family they wanted to start.
“We wanted to ensure two things, for me as the mum to be able to stay home with the kids in their early years and not have them raised by a domestic helper, and for the dad to be able to reach home by 6.30 or 7pm to have dinner and talk to the kids.
Lynn’s husband has Australian permanent residency (PR) for skilled migration while she is there on a spouse’s visa. She said they wouldn’t have migrated if conditions to raise children in Malaysia were better.
“We were very happy in Malaysia when it was just the two of us as we both had established careers, owned properties and had a close network of friends.
“Things now are far from perfect because we are away from friends and family, not having a career and financial freedom, taking care of kids and doing household chores 24/7 and not being able to enjoy all the usual little luxuries like annual trips and essentially missing home.
“But for this stage of our lives, we are happy we made the decision to move, especially when seeing our four-year-old son thriving in a public school and he can’t wait to go back each day,” Lynn said.
For children’s sake
Although Australian permanent residents are non-citizens, they still live, work, study and educate their children without restriction, said Paula Rajaratnam, a client services manager at Australian Migration Agents in Malaysia.
“You actually still have your Malaysian passport but you are an Australian PR. Very rarely do people who migrate actually get citizenship,” she said.
According to statistics from Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 4,290 Malaysians were recorded under the permanent additions category in 2014-15, which comprise people arriving permanently to Australia and people who gained PR.
The numbers, however, were the lowest since 2008, when a steady stream of Malaysians migrating to Australia was recorded.
Since then, the number of Malaysians granted PR has plateaued at more than 5,000 each year, increasing slightly to 5,906 for the 2012-2013 period, and dipping to 4,666 from 2013 to 2014, according to the department’s website.
Paula said those who migrated didn’t have to disclose their reasons for doing so, but most of the clients she dealt with usually wanted to start a new life in Australia.
“People with young children want to go over there. From an education point of view, they think the education is better and lot of time, it’s for their children’s future.
“In Australia, once you get a PR, you will get either subsidised or free education and their public school education is very good, so you don’t need to send your children to a private school,” she said, adding that people also cited the economic and political climate as reasons to migrate.
Some also want to escape the Malaysian heat and smoke which has become an almost annual occurrence.
“We had a lot of inquiries at that time as well (when the smoke was really bad).”
Australia, however, is becoming more selective with applicants who want to come as skilled migrants, said Grant Colbron, former head of immigration at the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.
Australia has reduced the occupations available for migrants but these changes do not have a major impact on Malaysian applicants as traditional jobs in engineering, information technology and accountancy are still available, said Colbron, who is now a migration agent.
“Malaysia has always been a strong source country for migrants to Australia and that trend continues. The linkages from education to migration remain strong,” he said, referring to those who had studied in Australia before working and obtaining PR there.
Australia is the closest Western country to Malaysia and about 20,000 Malaysians study there at all levels of education in private, public and vocational institutions, according to figures on the Australian High Commission website.
Getting a good job is secondary for service engineer Danny Lee, who is keen to join his family in Australia.
“I’m alone here in Malaysia, because my siblings and family are all in Australia. My second brother is a citizen and my eldest brother just migrated two years ago. My younger sister is currently studying in Australia and my parents also live there,” the 33-year-old said when met at a seminar on migration by the government of South Australia on July 30 in Kuala Lumpur.
He admitted that it was getting harder to migrate as the Australian government kept on tightening the requirements and hoped he could get a job in a technical field, since his work experience in Malaysia involved machinery.
Another Malaysian at the seminar who wanted to be known as Brandon, said he was gathering more information about migrating to Australia and planning to move in the next two years.
“It’s all about better education and Australia is the closest to us,” he said.
The Malaysian Insight tried to interview more migration agents about Malaysians moving to other countries besides Australia but they did not respond.
General manager of moving company AGS Malaysia, Cyril Quenneville, said most Malaysian migrations in recent years have been to Australia and the United Kingdom.
His company did an average of 1,000 moves per year, with 60% to locations outside Malaysia.
“The main peak season is during summer because of the school holidays. In June and July, we will move 15 families per day but in March, it will only be two families per day,” he said, adding that most of his clients are families with children.
Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed has said the Malaysian government did not have official numbers of Malaysians migrating to Australia or other countries.
“We don’t keep count and most of them don’t tell us unless they give up Malaysian citizenship, even then they don’t tell us.
“They don’t tell us because they want the benefits like dual citizenship, free education for their children or buy property there at a discount.”