Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Australian Government Doesn't Want Malaysians

I was pleasantly surprised recently to learn that the Australian Government has added more countries to their Working Holiday Visa Program. This visa allows people from overseas aged below 30 to live, work and travel in Australia for up to 12 months. They can enter the country as many times as they want in that 1-year period.

As of February 1st 2007, tertiary-educated citizens from Chile, Iran and Thailand have been added to the long list of countries already eligible for this working holiday visa. Turkey and Bangladesh are other countries that will soon follow suit. A glaring omission on this list is Malaysia (Truly Asia).

For a country that has so many of their students studying in Australia, this seems inexplicable. Malaysians are everywhere around Australian university campuses. I have been astonished by the amount of "tudungs" I've come across while lining up in school cafeterias. "Mind the ham/bacon/pork dishes, ladies" I would think to myself and then realise "Woohoo! More for me."

There are Malaysians in lecture halls, tutorial rooms, the library and especially in the computing labs. Free email and internet lah! When you do group projects, chances are you'll get buddied up with some nerdy Malaysian computer whiz kid. Of course, you let him do the computing part of the project because if he does the public speaking part, his propensity to finish sentences off with the word "lah" is generally frowned upon by the university staff grading you.

So how come Malaysia has been left off this list when clearly any Tom, Dick and Harry (Or should that be Fernando, Darius and Thaksin) from Chile, Iran and Thailand can get in? My guess is because Malaysia is a predominantly muslim country with some radical elements and may be regarded as potentially undesirable. The fact that the Australian embassy in KL recently got attacked by extremists doesn't help things either. Kind of unfortunate, don't you think?

But there are other options to obtain an Australian visa to migrate into the country. You just need to score 120 points in a test based on age, education, occupation, work experience, language skills etc. And no, these visas don't discriminate based on nationality. Worth looking into.

Right, I'll get my coat.....

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