A Doc Comes Home: Paul Yap

Paul Yap and his family moved into the neighbourhood and we met at a Christmas cookie-making party thrown by our Danish neighbours.

It took Paul three months to finally sit down and answer my questions. But then he did and it was worth the wait. I chased him for a family pic. He sent one with eyes closed. Nevermind. Can’t have everything.

“Why did you move back?” everybody asks when they meet a returnee. Well, here’s one doctor’s reasons why.

(L-R: Jeanne, Oliver, Paul, Olivia)

Name: Paul Yap

Age: Getting old.. (32 this year)

Family: 2 kids, 2 dogs and a wife

Hometown:  KL (but born in UK )

Current city: KL ( Was Manchester UK)

No of years abroad: 10

When did you return? May 2010.

Why did you return?

The usual reasons. Family, friends (the social network general) and the food. Was always planning to return but could never decide when. Having kids abroad by ourselves  made that decision a lot easier!!

What do you do for a living?


What did you like about living in the UK?

From a work perspective, I like the organization and structured training. Its very structured (even to the point of being over regulated at times) so you know where you stand and where you are (potentially) headed. They have a worker friendly environment – Working hours are regulated so you aren’t worked to death ! (particularly relevant to junior doctors). Minimal discrimination – tempted to say none, but that wouldn’t be totally true.

Social Aspect – We liked the cooler/cold weather, and therefore the ability to go out and walk the dogs and children anytime. General Safety. The fact that most people have the  chance to earn a reasonable living and enjoy a decent quality of life.

What did you not like?

Did not like – the weather at times (could rain and drizzle for days on end.. with cloudy days 50% of the time!) The food- you can only eat that many variations of cereals and sandwiches!!. Missing all the social events with friends and family happening back in Malaysia.

What have you liked about coming home?

1)Reconnecting with old friends and family.

Eating out! Anytime! Relatively cheaply too..

2)A sense of finality – While we were abroad, there was always this feeling that we weren’t settled down as the thought of going home eventually was always in the back of our minds. Now that we are finally back for good, we can buckle down and fully concentrate our careers and future, instead of wondering whether we shold go back next year , or the year after? – does that make sense ?

What have you not?

The ENORMOUS amount of bureaucracy and the incredible SLOWNESS to anything related to the government. There’s just TOO much to mention here that I’m not even going to bother trying…  please refer to the Blog’s author’s story  for a taste of the madness that is our governments administrative efficiency…

Whilst Malaysians are very friendly people in general, sometimes we can lack simple social skills and manners.

Malaysian drivers….

Public toilets..

Anything else you want to add?

To all potential returnees, if you’re sure that you want to return for whatever reason, then take the plunge when there’s an opportunity! I’ve seen many peers and colleagues abroad who have always talked about returning but never get around to taking any action as they take, what I call to be the “see first lah” approach. The longer you put it off, the less likely you are to return (which may not be a negative thing) and the reasons that you yearn to return for may longer be relevant.

p/s : For doctors – Malaysia is definitely not as organized as UK/US/AUS healthcare systems and the training is very unstructured. Please do your research and meet people locally before actually coming back. Having said that, once you are in the system and can work with, rather than against, the system, you will be fine.


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