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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

My Photo
Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Son Has Not Returned. A Surgeon In His Native Malaysia

The Son Has Not 

The Son Has Not Returned. A Surgeon In His Native Malaysia      Back Cover

When Malaysian-born and Canadian-trained surgeon Bakri Musa returned to Malaysia in the mid 1970s, it was to be a permanent move. The term “brain drain” had yet to be coined. 

Policymakers may expound on the dynamics of the brain drain but in the end what makes an individual leave his country is unique unto himself. To modify Tolstoy’s line, those who stay put are all alike; those who emigrate do so for their own special reasons.

The writer was blessed to have been spared dramatic escapes from tyrant rulers, close encounters with natural calamities, or surviving meaningless wars. Instead, the “push” factors chronicled here are the rigid bureaucracies, obstinate civil servants, and widespread incompetence. Those at least are remediable. More problematic is the pernicious culture of endemic corruption, religious fanaticism, and entrenched feudalism masked by a veneer of pseudo modernity.

During the 13-year period when the writer was away to be a surgeon, both he and Malaysia had changed, but in opposite directions. Parting ways early spared him many dashed hopes and bitter disappointments. As such the memories recalled here are for the most part fond, sweet, and pleasurable.  

Bakri Musa’s first memoir, Cast From The Herd:  Memories of a Matriarchal Malaysia, recalls his growing up in the world’s largest matrilineal society, the Minangkabau.

The title for this second memoir is a line from Sitor Situmorang’s poem, Si Anak Hilang (The Lost Son). 

Bakri Musa’s commentaries on Malaysian affairs have appeared in AsiaweekThe New York TimesInternational Herald Tribune, and The Far Eastern Economic Review, as well as on NPR’s “Marketplace” and The Voice of America. He has also given presentations at Stanford’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Washington DC. For the past 35 years he has been in private surgical practice in Silicon Valley, California.


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