Dual citizenship

One of the things I’ve become most aware of since coming to Australia is where I’m from.

It could be what I look like or my accent or any number of things – physical or otherwise – that begs the question to be asked but I don’t mind answering it.

I’m Malaysian. Well, Indian by descent but considering I’ve never been to India and my great-grandparents were the last ones who grew up there, I’m Malaysian first.

In the last four years, however, I’ve made a life here. I’ve worked, studied, paid taxes, forged friendships, stayed up til 4am rooting for Australia in the World Cup, and occasionally try – and fail miserably – to adopt the accent (much to the amusement of my friends).

But if Australian citizenship ever became an option for me, I don’t know what I’d choose –  mainly because I’d have to consider giving up my Malaysian citizenship.

Malaysia doesn’t allow dual citizenship.

I wouldn’t be able to say, “I’m a Malaysian” anymore.

Some may argue otherwise though. What makes me Malaysian isn’t my passport. And my rational mind agrees….the sentimental side however…

So it was interesting then for me to hear that two of my friends (an Iranian and Malaysian)  felt the same way, to an extent.

Their thoughts on dual-citizenship and home here: http://www.meldmagazine.com.au/2011/08/dual-citizenship/

2 thoughts on “Dual citizenship

  1. I am a Malaysian and I came to Australia in 2003 for studies. I did everything you did – worked (more like slogged) odd jobs, paid taxes and forged new friendships but rooted for Spain instead. ;)

    I received my permanent residency in 2007 and my citizenship last year but still have my Malaysian passport (Nobody asked for it lol)

    Ironically, I feel more Malaysian in the past couple of years than my 18 odd years in Malaysia. How? I am part of the team who organised RPK and Nurul’s speeches in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney and of course not to mention the Bersih rallies in all capital cities in Australia. Never before I was proud to work with fellow Malaysians with no race or religion tint AND for the first time for a Malaysian cause.

    I think how much Malaysian one wants to be depends on their individual perspective. Some may choose to return and contribute by taxes only (fully knowing that the taxes don’t reach the general public at all), or return and become arm-chair critics, or stay overseas and completely ignore issues back home etc. None of these are wrong though.

    And then there are some who chose to stay overseas but contribute pro-actively – either through writing to Australian MPs (we had the Greens party to come out and speak for the E06 and Bersih), NGOs like Amnesty Australia (to speak against the refugee swap) etc.

    What I am trying to say here is, you can still be a Malaysian even if you’re an Australian citizen. In fact, I know more Malaysians here who are more Malaysian then people back home.

    • Hi sactyr,

      I completely agree. I probably didn’t do a very good job of conveying it, but I too have felt more Malaysian being away from home than I have when I was there. More so because, like I said, I’ve come to realise that I identify as Malaysian first – unlike what goes on back home where people still use race to draw divisions between themselves…Chicken rice, nasi lemak, and roti canai are all Malaysian food to me now (not Chinese, Malay, or Indian/”Mamak”=)).

      Also agree with your point about being a Malaysian no matter what your citizenship is. Definitely acknowledge that any hesitation I have would be more based on a sentimental attachment than anything else. If you read the dual citizenship article, think Terry aptly sums it up.

      Being here has also given us the freedom to participate in things that we probably couldn’t have over there. Great to hear of your involvement in all the events – I think I’ve attended everything you’ve mentioned in Melbourne :) Probably because, like you said, it’s a way to know what’s going on back home and talk about it freely. Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s