Governance 101: Overseas Malaysians’ Home Calling!

home calling malaysia

(Calling overseas Malaysians back home acknowledges the fact that there is a brain drain is one thing BUT taking the right steps to stop them from leaving in the first place is a whole different ball game. Can the Government do it? Image source: http://www.teara.govt.nz/)

Another case of “no action, talk only”…

Politicians can come out with the best of best statements but in reality, they do not make the right effort to make such statements into a reality. On a worst-case scenario, they come up with policies which make their statements ending up as nothing but a fart in the wind.

Read this statement from theStar:-

Malaysia has urged its “best brains” working abroad to return home and help drive the country’s new economic model.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said more talented people were required for the country’s new approach that would be launched next month. Muhyiddin hoped that Malaysians abroad who were trained and experienced could come home and serve the country. He said people sometimes looked at the issue of brain drain the other way around, that “we’ve got brains to export”.

“In a sense, you can’t control people (from working overseas). But we do recognise that we need brains for development,” he added. “We need people capable of running the country as we don’t want foreigners to come in and tell us what to do.”

What does our DPM is thinking? Just because he asked for the ‘best brains’ to come back, the ‘best brains’ will drop everything and return home with open arms?

First of all, has the Government determined why best of best Malaysians pack their things and work in overseas? To their credit, the brilliant people in the Government knows the details but whether the Government has the will power to make the necessary changes to its policies and manner of nation-building has been another question.

Read this story posted almost 6 years ago:-

Renewed efforts to lure home Malaysian scientists currently working overseas were announced by the country’s prime minister last week in a fresh attempt to reverse the country’s brain drain.

The proposed perks include better pay, improved contracts and earlier retirement, as well as increased investments in research and development.

Speaking during a visit to the United Kingdom, Malaysia’s prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that the country’s losses, in terms of knowledge and money, were considerable, and that attempts by universities in other countries to lure Malaysian students were “tantamount to poaching”.

Mighty words from Pak Lah back then.

What happened to the ‘incentives’ to reverse the brain drain since the statement was made in 2004? How many Malaysian scientists took up the offer and returned? And how many of them got frustrated and went back aboard?

Even if they have come up with the best policies, has the Government has been keeping a close eye on executing the relevant policies? Have they kept a closed eye on the on-going brain drain? Have we improved the quality of pay for our brilliant graduates? Or should we turn back and ask whether the quality of our local education is good enough to warrant high pay for entry-level graduates?

Good pay is one factor but it is not the only factor that our brilliant Malaysians abroad looking at for. There are others that far outweighs money – namely good security, equal opportunity at business and career, policies that encourage openness, unity and transparencies, greater care for the environment, fast and efficient of service at all levels and reduction of red tape and corruption practices.

What if the best of the best (not foreigners but true blue Malaysians) returns and want to help out in the development of the country? Will they be given a fair place at the relevant places to best utilise their skills, expertise and experience? Can they be judged on their skills and expertise rather than by the colour of their skin? Remember this story?

Six staff bodies of state agency Selangor Development Corporation (PKNS) have objected to the appointment of a senior official as acting general manager on grounds that she is Chinese.
(Source: Malaysiakini)

Many Malaysians who are working abroad know far too well to trust politicians who make fancy statements but in reality, things are much different from it is perceived to be and thus causing more brain drain. In the long run, we are going to be at the losing end as brilliant Malaysians end up working for another country, enriching and further developing the said countries.

Wikipedia defines brain drain as:-

Brain drain or human capital flight is a large emigration of individuals with technical skills or knowledge, normally due to conflict, lack of opportunity, political instability, or health risks

Can Malaysia ever be attractive for the best of the best to return home and take part in its development? The country is stable and there is no major conflicts or health risks. There is some political instability but it is not something that we can manage, provided we have matured enough politicians running the country.

The ball now rests on the Government’s feet to make it attractive enough to pull the brilliant ones from abroad. Changes of policies will also assist Malaysia to retain the current brilliant ones from leaving for better pastures abroad.

Until then, talk is cheap and useless.

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