In the light of my recent posts about deconstruction, I offer an overview of my 3 books on migrant settlement. They cover ethnic affairs & multiculturalism; citizenship & national identity; refugee & humanitarian entry; and settlement assistance.
1) Destiny Will Out: the experiences of a multicultural Malayan in White Australia
I was a lightly-coloured Ceylonese Malayan boy, brought up in a British territory, where the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-coloured people co-existed with mutual tolerance. I entered Australia in 1948 as a fee-paying student at the University of Melbourne. I had never experienced any discrimination in the land of my birth.
In Australia, I observed a roaring sectarian religious divide, a colonial mentality, and racism. I faced discrimination in service in shops, in finding accommodation, and with seating on public transport. I was commonly described as a blackfellow (there being no other term in the local lexicon for coloured people). In a fashionable arcade, in spite of being expensively dressed, I was once loudly asked “Why don’t you go back home, you black bastard?” in a very aggressive tone. I did wonder at such ignorance, thinking that a similar question should have been addressed to Lt.Cook & Co, the white invaders, when they had arrived to open a new settlement for those considered by Britain to be criminals.
This was White Australia in the 1950s. Yet, I eventually reached the rank of Director in the federal public service, becoming finally responsible, progressively, for each of the immigrant settlement policies of the then Department of Immigration & Ethnic Affairs. However, I suffered discrimination even within that department – both racial and tribal (the word mass had a weighty influence with the latter group).
This book weaves fluidly my settlement experiences with my work experiences, in a readable manner, with no bitterness. What was encouraging were the reviews from senior academics, a number of private agencies, and a variety of immigrants and others. Although out of print, copies of the book can be found in the National Library of Malaysia, the National Library of Singapore, and the National and State Libraries of Australia, and in the top 20 Australian universities. The book is being prepared for re-publication.
2) The Karma of Culture
It was during a significant psychic experience after my premature retirement (which was to escape any further discrimination) that I was introduced to the spirit world. It was then that I received the suggestion that I could “contribute to building a bridge” from where I came to where I am. This is my second book in this effort, as I had been advised by senior academics that my experiences in Australia do represent a sliver of the post-war history of this rising nation.
Culture is like a second external skin, and immigrants need to trade some of their traditions for new ones in order to benefit from institutional adaptation and societal integration. These and other cross-cultural impacts, including the influence of Asian cultural and spiritual values upon Western thinking about democracy, human rights and societal values are woven through this book. Strong endorsements by 3 senior academics in diverse disciplines followed.
The book was Recommended by the US Review of Books (a rare accolade, said the Review).
3) Hidden Footprints of Unity : beyond tribalism and towards a new Australian identity
This is the third of my efforts to meet the obligation I had accepted to contribute to cultural bridge-building. It is about the inter-connectedness of mankind. It has 2 threads – the relationships between the ethnic communities in Australia; and their respective searches for God, with some peering into the Void of the Cosmos. I ride my spiritual horse to extol my ideal – the Aussie Family of Man.
I find a core commonality in the major religions when dogma is divested; and express the hope of a revised national identity, with new national icons identified by immigrants as well. After all, immigrants too had helped to re-shape the nation into the relatively tolerant cosmopolitan polity that it now is.
Again, the endorsements were gratifying, especially the one from the Religious Affairs Editor of ‘The Australian.’ This book was also Recommended by the US Review of Books.
Intending deconstuctionists of my writing will find my ebooks at Amazon Kindle Direct at $US 2.99 each.