Expat Interview: Peter Duke

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Name: Peter Duke
Home Country: UK
Other countries you have lived: UK, Australia, Hong Kong,
Singapore, Indonesia.
Worked in India, Thailand, Pakistan, and New Zealand

What brought you to Malaysia?
I came for the first time with the British Army after independence in 1962 and later (in 1978) as a businessman.

What were your impressions of Malaysia before you came?
I had been an avid stamp collector in my teens and knew more about the Straits Settlements because of their stamps. However, before we came out I went to the foreign office to receive a briefing on Singapore and Malaysia. All I remember is a senior officer saying something along the lines of: “In Malaysia there is a charming well-educated head of state, Tunku Abdul Raman, who is a good friend of ours. In Singapore the head of state is Lee Kuan Yew, a Cambridge graduate. He is rather an aggressive, ill-mannered individual who appears to have secret communist leanings.”

How easily did you adapt to living in a new country?
My wife and I both came from closeted Surrey backgrounds and had seldom strayed further north than Middlesex, so we were unprepared. But, after the initial shock, we settled in easily and I came to love the country and looked forward to returning after my tour of duty finished.

How long will you stay?
Probably as long as the Malaysians will have me or until ill health drags me back to a cooler climate.

What do you like to do at the weekend?
I like eating out, going to literary and art events, or flopping.

Do you frequent any restaurants of your homeland?
Not really, it’s too expensive and not really up to scratch, although some Italian restaurants are reasonable. I much prefer local food or “East meets West” menus.

Are most of your friends Malaysians or expats?
Mostly locals as I have managed to create a life after retirement in publishing and the arts. Most of the expats that I know are from my old career in business and I find that I really don’t have much in common with them now.

What do you miss most about your home country?


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