Articulating Queer Sinophone Malaysia: LGBT Chinese Malaysians’ Educational Mobility to Taiwan

Dr Ting-fai Yu1

1Monash University Malaysia, Sunway, Malaysia

Going overseas for higher education has long been a norm for students from the 60 independent Chinese schools in Malaysia, due to their qualifications not being recognised for entry into public universities under Malay-centric policies. Contrary to most other educational migration patterns studied, many of these students have attended universities in Taiwan rather than established destinations for foreign students such as Australia and Canada. This is largely a result of Taiwan’s welcoming education policy, as a Cold War legacy, for overseas Chinese students (qiaosheng) since the 1960s, long-established networks of Chinese Malaysian students as well as recommendations of teachers who were former students returned from Taiwan.  Stemmed from a multi-sited ethnography, this paper focuses on my LGBT informants and how their experiences in Taiwan played a significant role in transforming the queer landscapes of Malaysia. Informed by recent scholarship on transnational Chinese queer cultures (e.g. Chiang and Heinrich 2014; Chiang and Wong 2016), this paper highlights new queer practices and relationalities that emerged vis-à-vis this distinctive pattern of inter-Asian migration. In doing so, it contributes towards an articulation of queer Sinophone Malaysia which recognises aspects of Malaysian queer culture as fundamentally transnational and closely connected to the wider Chinese-speaking world.


Ting-Fai Yu is an anthropologist who works in Asian, cultural and queer studies. He is currently a Lecturer in Gender Studies at Monash University Malaysia and was previously a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden University.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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