Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Parents should encourage children to be what they want to be

Different Spin 31st October 2014 - unedited version

I watch my daughters play “doctor and nurse” while their bapak pretends to be their ‘patient’.

“See, if you drill it often enough, you plant seeds into their head that eventually manifests into reality,” says my husband proudly.

He has been telling our daughters that they can be “whatever they want”, provided they obtain a degree in medicine first. I stop myself from rolling my eyes at his statement and raise an eyebrow instead.

“Geez, you really are starting to sound like your father in-law!”

I remember those days when you had to fill out your ambition in the ‘cita-cita’ column and were only were given three choices.

“Daphne, are you sure you want to be just this when you complete your studies?”

I used to get so annoyed when my teacher questioned my preferences.

“What is wrong with wanting to be a librarian, a race driver and an embalmer? I love books, I love speed and the dead fascinate me!” I tell her as politely as I could.

She suggests I be more like my peers.

Yup! Doctor. Engineer. Lawyer
(How many of you guessed these three correct?)


I was reading a statement by the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun recently. He said that Sabahan youths are at risks of becoming slaves to migrants in their own land if there is a continual dependency on foreign labor.

According to the report, there are about 400,000 foreign workers in the state, mainly from Indonesia and the Philippines, but at the same time, there are many local youths who are jobless.

He adds that in the old days, the Dusuns used to take pride in toiling their land, but nowadays, almost all are being toiled by the Timorese and cites the vegetable farms in Kundasang, as an example.

“Our country is an inviting destination for foreign workforce because of the opportunities left vacant by our own people who tend to be very choosy when it comes to seeking jobs.

We cannot blame the foreign workers who will become more financially capable through their diligence and one day manages to open their own businesses. Don’t be surprised if one day, we become kuli  in our land,” he said.

I agree with him.

Our Malaysian service industry seems to be flooded by non-Malaysians.

I’ve not had my mee mamak fried by a fellow Indian Muslim chap in a long while. The waiters, my dry-cleaners and the friendly cashier who tends to my groceries each week, are all foreign workers.
My husband got annoyed once, by the security guard who gave confusing directions to the autopay machine;

Aiyo … don’t they speak proper English or Bahasa Malaysia?”

“I think he’s from Nepal love,” I explain kindly.

A new trend is emerging.

Step aside Indonesian and Pilipino recruits… Hello newbies!

There seems to be more Nepalese, Cambodians and Laotians coming into our country looking for odd job work - from rubbish collection and farming, to cleaning services and construction work. There seems to be a huge demand for these jobs, and I can understand completely.

Malaysians don’t want to do what they do simply because it is a job. Not a career.

You don’t have many parents encouraging their children to be refuse collectors or someone who lays bricks for a living.

You can OWN the business but you won’t be doing the actual labor.

In fact, most parents (and some educators out there) deem these jobs as menial and quite often with a negative tone to it.

“You better study hard, or you will end up as rubbish collector!”


I will be honest. Being a parent who works extremely hard to make sure her children receives the best education one can afford, naturally, I too would hope for them to choose a profession that would offer them a good remuneration package.

Unlike my husband, I truly would be happy for any vocation my child chooses in the future. But being a mother, I know that laborers work long, hard hours for a small wage. My maternal, protective instinct is just concerned.

But perhaps I shouldn’t be too worried about their career path?

Apparently Generation Y is like Generation X on steroids.

My sister who works in the Human Resource department of a bank finds it tough to find suitable candidates when hiring. Graduates who express interest in banking tend to zoom in to only the widely publicized roles in investment and corporate banking and are less open to other parts of banking.
Gen Y-ers are surrounded by more choices and therefore don’t tend to stay in one job for very long. 

They have a “what’s in it for me” attitude and focus more on entitlements, rewards, promotions and development.

Which brings me back to Datuk Masidi’s concerns on the plight of our jobless local youths. There is not one definite answer to solving this problem el pronto, but I think we can start by changing our perception and mindset towards the jobs that really need more locals getting interested in. When we stop thinking these jobs are ‘low class’ , the remuneration and respect, gains. If the Mat Sallehs in places like Denmark and Sweden can get it right, I see no reasons why we can’t.

Change must start from home.

If your child wants to be something else other than the ‘norm’, let him or her be.

Daphne’s daughters Isobel and Iman would like to be a fashion designer and aerobic instructor respectively. Her husband is okay with this, provided they have a medical degree specializing in gynaecology and pediatrics. Daphne finds it hard to teach an old dog new tricks, so she encourages her girls to just follow their dreams.

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