Did I have the opportunity to leave? That would be the first line of questioning. Yes, in fact most of my relatives are already residing in Sydney. I was working part time as a taxi driver in Sydney during my second and third year at University of NSW, which is to say I barely made it to classes especially in my third year. Thankfully, third year was the easiest, lots of essays.
I had to stay on after my degree after hearing my friends were getting RM400 a month as an accontant at Peat Marwick in KL. Gawd, it was just after the Pan-el crisis (readers younger than 40 please Google that before proceeding). Surely I was not going to go back and slog as an accountant with my Acctg Finance degree for RM400. Not when I was puling in A$90 for 9 hours as a taxi driver, tax free. (OK, its 20 years ago).
I had to enrol for my honours year just to stay on. I thought, fine, as the honours year could count as the first year for my Masters of Commerce as well. I would have to pay A$6,500 but I reckon I could make it back easily. So, no more cab driving, got myself an Asst. Accountant job at a NGO, Freedom From Hunger, hey they paid A$24,000 a year, even though the premises looked like a replica of the Sarawak longhouse (don't ask).
That stint as an accountant did wonders for me, it made me very sure that I would never ever want to be an accountant for the rest of my life. That lasted 4 months and I jumped at a Trainee Sales position at Nomura Securities Australia, gawd, I even had to take a pay cut to A$21,000. I was a natural salesperson, b.s. my way selling Japanese stocks, CBs, warrants and within 6 months I had a company car (Mitsubishi Sigma) and a 100% jump in my salary to A$42,000, and I wasn't even 24.
After two years my salary was bumped to A$65,000 with the usual 4 months bonus. Then James Capel was looking at how great the Asian markets were and was looking for someone to start a desk. At 26, I moved to James Capel as Head of Asian Markets. I asked for A$120,000 just for the fun of it, but they said yes OK. Gulp...
Now, I could have stayed there and move around every 3 years and before I was 40 I'd probably be running the Investments side for Bankers Trust or Suncorp or AMP. But it wasn't so easy. I could see that the higher rungs were limited in prospects for non whites. The culture was still very old school. There was too much rugby, beer, cricket, rugby 7s, prostitutes, etc... and you had to work the system.
Chinese Name: Yang Ying 楊穎
Date of Birth: February 28, 1989
Place of Birth: Shanghai, China
Background: Her father is 1/4 German
Place of residence: Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Height: 167 cm
Weight: 46 kg
But I had to make a detour first to Singapore before coming back as there were still (then) zilch opportunities) for me back home. I stayed in Singapore for 3 years managing funds for a private European bank. Funny thing was, I really liked business and finance, and I really liked to write, so I applied twice to The Straits Times and Business Times Singapore. I was offered twice, once for S$7,200 p.m. and another time for S$7,800 p.m. to work there. Sigh... things would have been very different if I took that up. I did a couple of columns for Business Times instead..lol.
Did I make a difference by staying? I don't know. I wanted to find out for myself, career wise, how far I could go in my country. In my small ways, I hope to be part of the struggle to get Malaysia to a better place. Even though, I may not live to see it, even though (if) I had children, they may not even stay in Malaysia ... even so, I want to see Malaysia progress. If every one just shrug their shoulders and pack their bags, who is left to switch off the lights?
I came back because I wanted to read papers that talks about things I care about. I pick up the Sydney Morning Herald, I just head straight for the puzzles column and sports section. Food is the least of my worries, there's always good food everywhere you go. Family, heck, I could have brought my entire family over.
I do not see this as a sacrifice, just my chosen path. I do not begrudge anyone. I make my way around, I live well enough ... but please fellow Malaysians, make a difference, remember to vote, get your friends to vote, get your relatives to vote ... or else don't ever complain about the country.