Rejecting a new career in a new Malaysia

After embarking upon a career in Australia, I received an employment offer from Malaya – but only after I had become an Australian citizen … to join the diplomatic service. The new government was recruiting suitable people from everywhere. …

I was flattered, but after due consideration, I turned down the offer. I foresaw the Malay people claiming their share of the sunlight in their own country. After all, the Chinese already dominated business; Chinese and Indians dominated trade, and Ceylonese (mainly), Indians and others dominated government service. I foresaw that a Malay-dominated government would exercise positive discrimination policies in order to make more of their people viable in administration, business and academia.

I foresaw that, following the success of such a programme, Malays would control the public sector, dominating all top positions. Malays would see the country as theirs, initially. Would I expect to reach the top (or near it) in an independent Malaya? I did not think so. But I could have joined the private sector where one would not see affirmative action intrude as much.

On the other hand, I did not expect to be permitted to get near the top in the public sector in Australia either. I had already been denied entry to responsibility in the private sector. It would be too much to expect. Yes, the White Australia policy would go, but first-generation Asian migrants were not likely to be granted equal opportunities, no matter how competent they were, how fluent they were in English, how integrated into Australian society they were. On the other hand, I believed that, if the observer shut his eyes, I would be equal to those English migrants who had achieved very senior positions; after all, they too had un-Australian accents, some of which were quite strong.

So I decided that I would rather be a one-man or small community minority in Australia than be a member of a larger community minority in Malaya. My ancestral community’s experience in Ceylon was instructive. I did not believe that, even if the Ceylonese in Malaya joined the Indians (if the latter accepted them), they could have the political clout exercised by the Chinese and to share, with any strength, in government. That situation would then be reflected in relative opportunities for entry to universities and for promotion in academia and the public sector. And this proved to be true.

So I stayed where I was and worked to better myself, even though I would be poorer in the long run. The savings potential of middle-class incomes in Malaya far outweighs that in Australia. I hoped, however, to have a lot of intangible advantages, especially those affecting my children.

Australia is also a country offering freedom of thought, speech and action, where human dignity is at its highest, and this was a paramount consideration for me. Equal opportunities for economic and social mobility are also available (at present mainly to the white population). With understanding, tolerance and persuasion from the educated coloured people, better opportunities might be achieved for (initially) the second generation of coloured migrants.

In time, even the first generation of coloured migrants, like myself, might be treated as true equals. I decided to integrate into the community. “Trumpet in a herd of elephants, crow in the company of cocks, bleat in a flock of goats,” a Malay saying, is a useful guideline. I also hoped to educate and persuade successive generations of Aussies into a more equitable nation. Hopefully, time will bring all things to pass.

(These extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ show that I was not easily tempted by short-term opportunities. My intuitive reading of the future has proven correct.

By being myself, that is, by total dedication to my jobs, and by changing agencies, I made good progress. I had reached the top of the Administrative Division in apparently record time. I was accepted fully by members of my various teams during the 22 years I was Director, out of a career of about 31 years. . In the 14 years I dealt with the private sector, I was also readily accepted.

It was only when I sought entry into the Executive Service did the weevils strike. At the end, I faced both racism and tribalism. At age 60, I took early retirement to escape further discrimination; but I left with a vast knowledge of the policy issues relating to the integration of immigrants into Australian society.

My 6 books reflect this knowledge, as attested to by eminent people. Available at Amazon as ebooks at $US 2.99 each. The books are held by the National, State and Territory Libraries in Australia, some local public libraries, the National Libraries of Malaysia and Singapore, most universities in Australia, a few universities in New Zealand, and the Australian Department of Immigration, etc.

The Cosmos can decide the extent of influence of my books. It was the spirit world, after all, which influenced me to write – by advising me during a significant psychic experience to contribute to building a bridge from where I came to where I am.)


About my writing

To complete my story about my writing, I offer the following.

I began to write in primary school. On a palm-sized slip of paper (to avoid being caught by the teacher) I set down my thought for the day, and passed it to my immediate neighbours. At work, I wrote analytical reports. For civil society, I wrote press releases. Writing was my surfboard, permitting me to ride the waves in many seas.

After retirement, I had a significant psychic experience. The spirit of my senior uncle, who had appeared to guide my spiritual development, suggested that I could contribute to building a bridge from whence I came to where I am. It took me 2 years to accept that I knew enough about migration and settlement to do what had been suggested by the spirit world.

Imbued with the communitarian spirituality of traditional Asia, and wondering whether what I really had anything relevant to say, I began to write.  Based upon my own settlement experience in Australia and my policy work experience (at the level of Director) as a federal official, I wrote 3 books on ethnic affairs & multiculturalism, citizenship & national identity, refugee & humanitarian entry, and settlement assistance.

A memoir, infused with Eastern philosophy, then described my life under British colonialism, a Japanese military occupation, and a racist White Australia which denied me equal opportunity; yet enabled me to reach leadership positions in civil society. Two other books followed. One was fiction, written for fun. The other, the latest, is about Australian society, reflecting my tentative conclusions about matters I had thought about.

All my non-fiction books were endorsed by senior academics in diverse disciplines and other notable persons. The book of fiction and my memoir received most favourable reviews; the latter included a recommendation by the US Review of Books.

Also published are many articles, especially 44 in – on a variety of issues arising from my books.

See also my website and