July 25, 2008

#24 Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia is highly favoured by Malaysian people for a plethora of reasons. The city is one of the most cosmopolitan in Australia and Melbourne itself contains the largest number of Malaysians at approximately 30, 000.

Rest assured that Melbourne, along with Bali are safe and surefire conversation topics with Malaysian people. We will now examine the reasons that Melbourne is one of the most desired cities Malaysians go to to achieve the Malaysian Dream.

Given the comparatively favourable distance and exchange rate compared to the UK and the US, Australia has remained top on Malaysian people's list for foreign education. Most Malaysians first encounter Melbourne in their varsity years as they go over there to enroll in the many fine institutions the city has to offer. This influx of students over the past decade has therefore lead to a rise in Malaysian people taking up residency in Melbourne after they complete their studies.

Melbourne has many merits as a city; its rich cultural heritage, diversity, affordable cost of living, thriving seaport & automotive industry and so forth. All these factors contribute to the Malaysian person's pride of the city but in truth, they don't really matter all that much. It is only important that those things exist so that they can be used for small talk or to show off to other Malaysians. Paramount to a Malaysian's choice to live there is of course, other Malaysians (although they would never admit this).

The presence of their ilk, whether as students or working class citizens, brings great comfort to Malaysians. This means they can speak Manglish, eat Malaysian food and act out their usual Malaysian idiosyncrasies whilst occasionally rubbing shoulders with White people. Should a dalliance with a White person turn into something more substantial (ideally marriage), this would mean a Malaysian's mission in life has been accomplished and their Malaysian Dream would be complete.

Acquiring residency or citizen status in Melbourne is a proud and defining moment in the Malaysian person's life. It opens the door to a myriad of opportunities (Part-Time Malaysian status) and privileges. Chief among them is the fact that they can return home annually to tell their relatives and friends (in newly acquired Australian accent) how wonderful everything is overseas and that they should consider migrating too. Naturally, everyone will be impressed and get excited at the thought of doing so while the Melburnian Malaysian basks smugly in his accomplishment. This of course, will contrast sharply with the Malaysian's sentiments once returning to face the inclement weather and daily grind in Melbourne.

When partaking in a conversation with a Malaysian regarding Melbourne, you must be careful not to mention Sydney. Although Malaysians have an immense sense of pride for their adopted city, they are also very insecure and any implication that Melbourne is inferior to Sydney's size, pace and more modern provisions will put them in a state of depression.

If however you have committed this mea culpa, it is very easy to reverse the negative effect. Ask the Melburnian Malaysian what they think of other Australian cities like Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide. They will immediately launch into a spiel of how those cities are backwards, ethnically challenged and devoid of character. This will enable them to reaffirm their superiority and leave the conversation with a positive feeling about themselves and (to a lesser extent) you.


May Zhee said...


I could not have written something this insightful and accurate. Wait, maybe I could ... but I'll be extremely bias and piss off a lot of people along the way.

I personally prefer Sydney, though I dislike Australian education in general. Melbourne = second Malaysia. Crappy place. And I am supposed to be an applicant for an Australian PR. Anyway.

Paramount to a Malaysian's choice to live there is of course, other Malaysians (although they would never admit this).
Again, so true. "I want to be independent. Studying abroad is oh so hard. Boohoo." "But, what's the point of going to a place where all Malaysians are there?" "I want to be independent. Studying abroad is oh so hard. Boohoo."


B.H. said...

May Zhee,

Thank you for validating the post. If you must, I would like my salute to be accompanied by the ceremonial 21 guns please.

I assure you that Australian education while not without its faults, has enough merit to warrant such large numbers of human traffic. Besides, the point is to reap the benefits of a challenging course and stimulating syllabus, regardless of your compatriots' presence.

Living abroad independently can be a liberating and eye-opening experience.

Maybe you could write a book about it.


synical said...


But I would still rather go to Australia on the tourist capacity than as a student.

But that's just me.

s kim said...

hahah i LOVE THIS POST omg you have no idea how sick i am of hearing about melbourne and malaysians moving to melbourne only to emerge 2 years later with a painfully fake accent.
i would go on but you mentioned it all already.

this is the best post so far.
and i am linking it in my next post.

B.H. said...

Synical- Welcome. AirAsia is supposed to start their Melbourne route sometime later his year. There's your chance.

Kim- Thanks very much. I hope you hold nothing back in your post.

On a side note, it's interesting that the majority of this blog's regular readers are the fairer (and more discerning) sex.

Where are all the men?


Anonymous said...

haha, painfully true.

Leticia Kiara Tan said...

i stayed in paramount last year. LOL :]

Ashleigh said...

Awesome! SO TRUE!! I really hate those fake accents.

I love your post on Caucasians too! There are girls I know who throw themselves at Caucasian men, just for the sake of dating a Caucasian.

B.H. said...

Anonymous- I feel your pain. Laugh it off.

Leticia- What can I say? Melbourne is synonymous with rich Malaysian kids living in decadent serviced apartments.

Ashleigh- Once you go white you're never quite right.


Jin&Tonic said...

You have a great writing style and I totally understand your observations. However, being a recent addition to Melbourne's (Msian) population, I guess I should defend this great city :p

It is touted one of the world's most livable cities and I certainly agree. I've lived in London for a while and found it, although exciting, quite tiresome. Melbourne brings a mix of cultures (albeit mainly Asian) that no other city can provide; and the Aussie laid-back lifestyle definitely appeals to me personally.

I must add though, the so-called "fake" accent that people have here can be annoying; even though some would say I possess the same "fake accent" lol. Having had trouble with people understanding you, it's only natural for people to adapt their speech (which would include their accents) to be able to communicate effectively. Not to mention to be able to fit in!

As much as I love Malaysia, I guess I could never see myself living there for the rest of my life. Is that such a bad thing???

B.H. said...


You certainly are allowed to defend your choice. I myself am partial to Melbourne but perhaps you are missing the point of the blog if I have to explain how the humor works.

I appreciate your honesty and the justification you provide. I am quite sure everyone who has lived abroad has succumbed to adaptation to varying degrees.

Malaysia, while being fundamentally flawed, will always be incomparable.

Where you are is not as important as who you are.

Thanks for stopping by and providing some intelligible discourse. Come back soon.


Jin&Tonic said...

I do understand your humour but probably felt a little defensive when reading it. I guess we're only human and will feel what we feel.

It is hypocritical of me though, as I have once avoided the choice of studying in Melbourne merely for the fact that it had "too many Malaysians"! Again, I stand by the fact that we're only human.

Thanks for taking the time to listen (read) my justifications.

Am looking forward to reading more of your discourse!

B.H. said...

Jin & Tonic,

I'm glad that you are one of the more rational and well adjusted readers I have encountered.

This blog is always open to opinions, criticism or debate and it's been awhile since anyone provided some. People like you are always welcome.

Hypocrisy is a necessary thing. It reminds us that everyone is fallible.


Anonymous said...

haha this is funny and scary at the same time for me.
'm waitin for one of the unis in melb 's reply.for grad school.
i might be going to melb but not for any of the reasons u mentioned, hopefully i'll keep this entry in mind so i wont turn into one of those ppl u mentioned =)))
good job.

Anonymous said...

I thought there were ignorant Malaysians out there but I did not know that it exist in the form of a blog. Don't get my wrong, I love the blog. But I don't think, humor or not, you are getting the right messages out to other ignorant and young Malaysians out there. I reckon you introduced a lot of awkwardness between Malaysians living Melbourne and their fellow countrymen currently living in Malaysia. Personally, I know a lot of Malaysians out there who love their motherland but has an obligation to their hopes and dreams, and they choose to do it Melbourne because they just simply love it (not because of some bloody crappy comparison between the US and the UK. Come on, try living in London or New York for a few months and then come up with this supposedly humorous and harmless entry) I mean would you not like an Australian who lives permanently if not temporarily in Malaysia, to pick up your culture and accent of your country? I would think that you had some really bad experiences in Melbourne or your "friends" with faux accents are just faux pas, no?

B.H. said...


Like everyone else who reads the blog, you are welcome to voice your opinion and I appreciate the voice of dissent that reflects the subtextual provocations of the subject matter.

First of all, surely you are employing flattery or some kind of irony to suggest that this blog has such a profound impact on the fragile and impressionable mental state of people reading it. If that is the case, I am afraid irreversible damage has been done not just by this entry, but by the others preceding it.

I would like to give my readers more benefit of the doubt when it comes to being able to discern reality from satire. This entry is meant to point out a fact us Malaysians can relate to and the humor that lies behind it.

This entry has no malicious intent, but perhaps your insecurities about your current predicament have left you unable to separate fact from fiction, thus taking yourself and this post all too seriously.

Understand that this blog makes no attempt to criticise or advocate the choices anyone makes nor does it pretend to be a self righteous attempt at social commentary.

This entry is not about fake accents, misplaced patriotism or any of the things you could possibly fathom in a negative sense.

Surely you cannot be suggesting that our view of things should be as cut and dry as you would like them to be.

No matter what is or isn't said here, people will continue to be divided on such issues.

If you take a macro view of the blog, you will see that the point is to unite (not divide) Malaysians by way of humor.

I respect your opinion but I am afraid no dialectic will be able to convince you otherwise unless you deal with your own self doubt regarding the issue.

Thank you for providing this blog with it's first real disagreement. I am satisfied that I have provoked some thought and differing interpretations on the subject.

I hope in future you will leave a valid name or moniker in which I can address you with.

My brief experience with Melbourne was very pleasant. I hope you continue to enjoy your time there in spite of the emotional distress this post has caused you.

Ignorance or the lack of it, is not a result of subversive or spoken influence, it is a conscious choice that you make.

Good day.


Chak Hwa said...

hi all

lets hope this post does not get deleted due to poor capitalisation and possibly spelling and or grammatical errors. or being plainly stupid.

i do not reside in melbourne nor do i intend or dream of staying/migrating there. as some may have already commented, there's too many there and that's one of the reasons for avoidance. i do however live in western australia in a place called karratha.

the idea of "studying abroad" should be reserved to having a totally different experience and to immerse yourself into different cultures and try to pick up their good traits and adopt them along the way, and no, having the nasaly aussie accent is definitely not one of them. their friendly nature can be added to the above mentioned as an example. i see going to a different place to study and only making friends from the same country or worse, same high school friends, after 3 to 4, or even 5 years for units that you couldn't complete the first time around, is truly a waste of time and effort.

i have always considered melbourne as a dump grounds for children belonging to the richer demographics of our nation, Malaysia (hey hey, notice the big M there), along with other famous buy-it-now university experiences.

your command of the english vocabulary clearly super cedes mine, unless of course your thesaurus on your table has more dog ears than my jane austen's night read. yet after reading almost three times, i fail to understand where your direction of feelings point to. perhaps that is the issue here i guess, is im not intelligent enough to understand your post/blog/web article or what the new catch phrase is lah.

well about marrying a caucasian, i just got sick of asian women in general but then again thats something personal. i do not see it as a pinnacle of my success. i see raising two kids in a more informed and ordered society a success. i see my kids having a chance at education, possibly even business in future, and opportunities which will not be reserved to certain individuals. i see having a job i know allows me to climb that oh so steep corporate ladder without having to be of a certain race, a success, in fact it shouldn't even be, but because i was brought up in Malaysia, it has become so. so no, marrying an whitey (ang mo, kwai lou) is definitely not the end game, just a step.

ah the accent, yes. guilty as charged. but not so bad lah i still can talk like how i normally would back in sekolah rendah. i love it when i need to encode messages and hide it from the missus.

so maybe there wasn't much about melbourne except for that paragraph about the overcrowding but the point being is that this issue, if one must call it, stems directly from our society, or should i say the moulding of our society where the hands are of the government giants.

let the malaysian melbournites bask in their glory and superiority for all we should care. its just another town full of students who'll never get past second year and end up taking over papa's big business. start writing about why we're not in back home in the first place.

thank you.


B.H. said...

Chak Hwa,

I believe in something called freedom of speech. I have not deleted any comments since the blog's inception and will foreseeably continue this policy unless comments encroach personal issues. No, I do not use a thesaurus. Perhaps your preconceived notions of Malaysians preclude the idea of someone having an extensive vocabulary without peripheral assistance. Would you have made the same assumption if my ethnicity was different?

There are certain sentiments I share with you but on a whole I too am lost as to what point you are trying to make here.

The reason why you fail to grasp the post's nuances is because you are looking for something that is simply not there. If you are expecting an academic dissertation on the merits of Melbourne as a viable migration point or education hub, I am afraid you are in the wrong place.

I am not promoting nor am I deriding Melbourne. The plain simple truth is that Melbourne is home to many more Malaysians compared to other Australian cities. If you disagree with me you are free to refute my claim with statistical evidence.

I sense that your gripe is more socio-political in nature. There are move suitable avenues for your frustrations regarding our governance. Perhaps your views would be better served there. If the intention of your comment is merely to antagonise, you will find me turning the other cheek and leaving you to your own devices.

I will not comment on your opinions regarding Melburnian students as I would be aiding the cause of a sweeping, biased statement.

I certainly appreciate you taking the time to craft such a lengthy exposition and for the little anecdotes you have included.

As for your suggestion of a topic regarding the reasons we reside overseas instead of in Malaysia, I trust you would be able to provide a convincing explanation considering you are in that position.

My thanks for the stimulating verbal sparring and I hope the other posts will inspire more original thoughts from you as well.


Mak Lov-Een said...

hey annon no. 2, siapa makan chilli dia rasa pedas hahaha

zewt said...

you're right... i wanna go there.

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ about the mentioned points there. I and many other Malaysians I know do find Melbourne or rather, Australia itself per say, extremely boring, lacking night life, ridiculously expensive and most of the behaviors of Caucasian teenagers extremely embarrassing. Most Malaysians abroad are still proud of their nationality, and wouldn't think twice about going home if not for the silly governmental policies, increasing crime rates and distressing economical crisis in Malaysia. On the other hand, Malaysians who do somehow miraculously adopt an 'Australian accent' after a year or two when speaking to fellow Malaysians or upon returning back home do so at their own ridicule and truly do make my eyes roll to the back of my head and induce a full on gag reflex. Maybe, try not to overgeneralize in the future as associating Malaysians studying in Melbourne such as myself with those previously mentioned is certainly insulting.

B.H. said...


You are missing the humor of the blog. It is logically impossible for me to pinpoint every single person who has behaved in the manner described and leave out the rest who don't.

How would you suggest I do that? By compiling a list of people who do and don't ascribe to the behavior mentioned?

If you are not a perpetrator of such acts there is no need for you to feel offended. This blog is all about making fun of ourselves and finding huMor in our shared idiosyncracies. You do not seem to grasp that point.

Please do not allow your insecurities to cloud your judgement. I thank you for your opinions, truly. But please don't spoil the fun for everyone else by turning this into something it is not.

This blog is not a factual social commentary and has never under any pretense assumed itself to be. The greatest danger in life is to take yourself too seriously.

Good day.


s kim said...

perhaps i gave this particular post more publicity than it can handle...

B.H. said...


This post, and this blog could use any publicity it can get.

But apparently it's only funny to laugh at other people's predicament and not one that hits to close to home.


Alex said...

Im a Malaysian in Melbourne now, and this post gave me a good laugh. Cheers!

Truth to be said, Melbourne is fickle and boring :p

zewt said...

i have actually met a person who cant speak english properly (no disrespect)... and i mean a rather poor command of english and said... she has been in aus for the last 8 years... holds an Aust passport!!!

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