We often hear of talented Malaysians making their name on the world stage with their amazing achievements, but most may wonder why can’t they make it in their home country here in Malaysia?
One example is Malaysian born, Sam Lim, who was recently elected as a Member of Parliament in Australia.
According to ABC News, Sam scored an unlikely election victory against the Liberal Party of Australia’s Ben Morton and he will now be a member of parliament (MP) for Tangney in Perth, representing the Australian Labor Party.
Sam was born in Johor, Malaysia in 1961 to a poor family. He also recalled that his childhood home had a leaky roof, dirt floor and no running water.
“So we had to struggle for the first 15 years of my life. But that 15 years built me up to today,” he said.
Sam said he had a dream of working as a cop in Malaysia, but he quit being police after 2 years due to the low pay due to the low pay. “As a constable, I was making RM275 a month, and after deductions there would only be about RM180 left. I wanted to share some with my parents, but there was so little,” he said.
After that, he moved on to work as a dolphin trainer at a safari part.
“I loved it because dolphins are so genuine. Dolphins never hurt you. If you feel hurt you jump into the swimming pool and the dolphin will come to you and try to comfort you. That was my best part of my career,” he said.
However, his career as a dolphin trainer came to an end when creditors moved in on the safari park, a time he described as one of mixed emotions.
“It was the worst part of my career at that time because we had to say goodbye to them, but we feel very happy they are back to their home,” he recalled.
After that, he went on to run several small businesses in Malaysia and achieved success. He said that it was made possible by the people who supported him and eventually enabled him to move to Australia with his wife and three children.
Despite his success in business, he went back to his childhood dream of being in the police force by joining the Western Australia police in 2006 at the age of 45.
Lim who speaks 10 languages, was named Western Australia’s police officer of the year in December 2020 for his work with migrant communities during the pandemic.
“Being a police officer is a great job, I love the blue uniform,” he said, adding that the job allowed him to “travel all over Western Australia and understand the customs of the state”.
Soon after, he was approached by the Australian Labor Party to run for election in Tangney and eventually become the second Malaysian born person to become a member of the Australian federal Parliament, after Kota Kinabalu born Penny Wong was elected to the Senate, representing South Australia, since 2002.
While Sam’s success attracted praises and congratulations around the world, some netizens pointed out that this is another prime example of the brain drain that is currently happening in Malaysia, where the educated or professional people from the country would choose to migrate to countries giving better pay or with better living conditions.
“In order to be successful, you need to migrate to another country… it just shows how bad living in Malaysia is.” a netizen commented.
“He was a Malaysian before but this nation failed to recognise his abilities,” another netizen said.
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