In the old days, the Iban used the term ‘bejalai’ to describe the journey of a young Iban man who is going to foreign land looking for fortune and glory.
A person who is undertaking a ‘bejalai’ is regarded, particularly by young women, as someone who is brave, enterprising, ambitious and forward looking.
The Iban still embark on this journey of fortune today, but those who undertake this journey may not be considered in the same manner.
A substantial number of the Iban, for example, are working in Saudi Arabia in all capacity and employment. While some of them are highly educated and work as engineers and executives in the oil and gas industry, many of them are also unskilled labourers.
While many Iban and other Malaysians are going overseas looking for better employment and salary, foreigners are coming here to be employed as labourers, construction workers, maids and general workers.
Why do people leave their country to take a job in another country? Why do Malaysians go overseas, while foreign workers come to Malaysia to look for jobs here?
What is the incentive for the people to do this? Is it due to better salary? Is it due to better work environment?
Is the situation really desperate in their country of origin? Are they in a dire straits and in a complete despair?
Is the opportunity for progress and development really limited at home? Have they lost all hope?
Why do the people from Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines and Bangladesh embark on a ‘bejalai’ in Malaysia?
What do we have that attract them to come here? Do they see Malaysia as the land of milk and honey?
Do they see Malaysia as the land of abundance and plenty? Do they see Malaysia as the land where they can obtain money and wealth?
Is Malaysia really ‘the land of glory’ for them? Is Malaysia their land of hope? Do they believe that Malaysia can make their dream to come true?
Did they entertain the idea that there is no potential for them in their country?
Do they genuinely accept the fact that they can succeed in Malaysia? They must believe that they have made the right decision to come here, as apart from obtaining employment, foreign workers in the country are also enjoying the benefits of our publc policy.
They are enjoying, for instance, our subsidy on cooking oil, rice and flour.
In the process, have we helped to alleviate or reduce the incidence of poverty in the countries around us. Isn’t it interesting that we actually enrich our neighbours? But as we attract the foreigners and give them a second chance in life, we must also never forget to make this country a better place for everyone. – Sarawakvoice