(This is an article I wrote today for the in-house e-bulletin at the university where I teach about receiving Malaysian Permanent Residency)
Last week, I received my Malaysian Permanent Residency. It’s been a long time coming and I’m very happy about this.
I have lived in Malaysia for eleven years – five and a half years in Kuala Lumpur, six years in Ipoh. I did leave and come back between the fifth and sixth year so I didn’t apply until two years ago. Actually, I could have applied earlier for a PR as the interruption in my stay in Malaysia didn’t affect my eligibility.
The process of obtaining permanent residency was fairly smooth. I had one interview with the local police in person and one follow-up interview by telephone which is the standard procedure. The interview in person was funny as I expected to be asked to answer questions in Bahasa Melayu and so practiced basic BM with a colleague. When I arrived for my interview, the officer noticed that I was a native English speaker and then fetched his supervisor who conducted the interview in English.
So what does permanent residency mean to me? Well, the two most obvious benefits are the ability to change jobs like a Malaysian without a work permit or otherwise involving the immigration department and the ability to buy property directly. Basically, the only important thing a PR can’t do is vote.
But there is more to it than convenience and material gain. Malaysia is the home country of my wife and I feel it’s become a home of sorts for me as well. It’s certainly a very nice place to live.
One of the most common questions people ask me in Malaysia is why do you choose to make your home here? What they are implying is why would an American ever want to give up America and live in Malaysia?
Well so many reasons, a better quality of life, tropical weather 12 months a year )I hate cold weather and snow), proximity to other countries for tourism not to mention a family connection through my wife and of course the food which seems to be the first thing foreigners talk about when discussing Malaysia.
And furthermore I think Malaysia has a truly unique social situation that is found in very few places – Three separate cultures (at least) that by and large interact peacefully.
Malaysia is not perfect but I predict that this is a country with a bright future and am very happy to finally overcome the permanent residency hurdle.