Bigger wave of Malaysians migrating to Australia

Malaysians are drawn to Australia by a variety of factors, including better economic opportunities, political stability, and a higher quality of life.

(FMT) – For Shahrin S, the hardest thing about moving away from Malaysia was leaving his family and friends behind. However, he has no regrets about his decision to start a new life in Australia.

Shahrin, who emigrated in 2022, is one of many Malaysians who have made the land down under their new home, drawn by an array of factors ranging from the availability of better economic opportunities and the country’s political stability to a higher quality of life.

The IT programme manager who currently resides in South Australia expects a larger number of Malaysians to migrate there in the future, to escape endemic corruption, political instability and racial tension in their home country.

“It is good to live in a country where taxes are put to good use in developing the country and further supporting the people.

“Scholarships, funding and monetary assistance are awarded purely based on merit and achievements, regardless of what ethnicity, race or religious background you come from,” the Australian permanent resident told FMT.

Shahrin has no regrets either about leaving behind the Bumiputera privileges available to him in Malaysia, saying he rarely, if ever, took advantage of them.

“So, moving to Australia made no difference. In fact, my family has enjoyed more migrant privileges from the South Australian government.”

Available data shows a substantial increase in net Malaysian immigration to Australia in 2023. According to Statista, some 4,890 Malaysians migrated to Australia last year.

The number represents a significant uptick from the previous year, when approximately 2,930 Malaysians made the move.

Nicole Yong, managing director of Kitson Migration Advisory, said factors like education, higher income prospects, and a better living environment are what make Australia attractive to Malaysians.

“In the 1980s and 1990s, Malaysians who studied in Australia eventually returned to Malaysia because of family ties and good business opportunities back home.

“But in recent times, most people are choosing to stay back. Even parents want their children to stay in Australia for a better future,” said Yong, whose firm specialises in “migration services” for Malaysians seeking to move to Australia.

She also said many Malaysians prefer Australia due to the better paying jobs available, especially for young adults and fresh graduates.

Yong said many of her clients are engineers who graduated from countries like the UK and Australia, and had spent heavily to pay for their education.

“But their income (in Malaysia) is just RM3,000 or RM4,000, and even if they work for many years, it (will just progress to) RM5,000,” she said.

Wong Kien Yang, a Malaysian migrant who works as a banker, said he chose to move to Australia as he had done his undergraduate and postgraduate studies there.

“I naturally decided it was the right place to settle down when I got accustomed to life here,” he said, adding that Australia’s allure lies in its multiculturalism, which bears some resemblance to Malaysia.

“Hence, people are generally more accepting of different cultures. Sydney also has a large Malaysian community, and Malaysian restaurants are abundant.”

Melbourne-based Balraj Rajagopal said he migrated to Australia because of its fair and equitable policies, established rule of law, quality education, and equal opportunities.

Balraj anticipates that more Malaysians, especially doctors and IT specialists, will move there for similar reasons.

While living in Australia can be challenging, he said younger folk would find it easier to integrate into local society.

“They can adapt quicker as their social reach is expanded through school and university studies. For older people, it takes longer to adapt to cultural differences and make new friends. Of course, this also depends on the respective individuals.

“Although the migration laws are updated and revised from time to time, opportunities are available for professionals who are young and willing to take the risk of migrating,” he said.