Damning Diaspora Data


By Martin Jalleh

On 4 Oct. last year, PM Najib Razak expressed his concern that the exodus of local talent to developed countries has threatened his vision of transforming Malaysia into a high-income nation by 2020.
Below are some statistics gathered from various sources and highlighted in 2010 to show how serious the brain drain is and the fact that more and more Malaysians are leaving since Najib took over:

  • 785,000 Malaysians are working overseas. Unofficially, the figure is well over 1 million (or even 1.5 million) (Malaysian Employers Federation executive director, Shamsuddin Bardan).

  • Of those who have left, nearly 40% of them have settled in Singapore; 30% in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries such as Australia, USA, UK, Canada and New Zealand; 20% in other Asean countries and 10% in the rest of the world.

  • An Australian immigration agency in Perth with offices in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor has reportedly said that the number of Malaysians enquiring about moving to Australia rose by 80% since 2008.

  • There were only 9,576 Malaysians living abroad in 1960. The number of migrants from Malaysia rose sharply to 1,489,168, a near 150-fold increase over the 45-year period! (World Bank).

  • The number of Malaysians relocating to Singapore jumped from 120,104 in 1981 to 303,828 in 2000. The number of Malaysian migrants to Australia, meanwhile, shot up to 92,337 in 2007.

  • 140,000 left the country, probably for good, in 2007. Between March 2008 and August 2009, that figure more than doubled to 305,000 (according to a recent parliamentary report).

  • Companies have complained about the lack of skilled labour in Malaysia and economists have cited this problem as a hindrance in the country’s ability to attract more high-technology industries. About 80% of the country’s workforce have only secondary school education.

  • Around 350,000 Malaysians, half of which have tertiary education, are working abroad (according to the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) ).

  • The number of Malaysian researchers, scientists and engineers working overseas exceeds 20,000 with 40% of them in the United States and 10% in Australia.

  • 304,358 Malaysians had migrated from March 2008 till Aug. 2009 compared with 139,696 Malaysians in 2007.

  • There are around 7,000 plus research scientists, i.e., about 70% of the total in Malaysia, working overseas.

Bird-brained over brain drain

In response to the disturbing diaspora scenario, the government announced in Dec. the setting up of “Talent Corporation” (Talent Corp.) under the 10th Malaysia Plan to attract and retain highly-skilled human capital. Operating under the PM’s Department, it will commence operations in January 2011.

Judging from the statements of the political elite in 2010 and their glaring contradictions of each other, Talent Corp. will eventually meet a fate similar to past attempts such as the ambitious “brain gain” programme of the 8th Malaysia Plan implemented some 10 years ago.

It had a two-pronged strategy: (a) An annual “brain gain” of 5,000 “extraordinary world citizens of extraordinary talent” to “lure the best brains regardless of race or nationality, from Bangalore to California” and (b) Encourage 500 skilled Malaysians overseas every year to return home with their expertise from 2001.

Lim Kit Siang called the ambitious “brain gain” programme an “unmitigated failure” – with Malaysia losing even more talents in the past decade.

Malaysians living abroad have often cited affirmative action policies as hindrances to them returning to their homeland. In response to this Najib said that affirmative action would be made “market-friendly, merit-based, transparent and needs-based” under the New Economic Model.

His deputy Muhyiddin Yassin insisted that the economic plan would protect the Malay agenda. Malay rights groups jumped on the Deputy PM’s bandwagon, Najib backtracked and called the policy a “trial balloon”!

In an article entitled “Treat returnees as real national assets” Khairy Jamaluddin wrote on the “need to offer enough opportunities and scholarships to our top performers all the way through to university and prepare a lucrative and rewarding career path for them so they end up contributing here rather than elsewhere.”

On 16 June 2010, Nazri Aziz was on another wave-length: “Sending overseas students causes brain-drain where some of them won’t want to come back after studying there for a few years. If you keep sending students overseas, when are we going to improve our standards (locally)?”

He also believed that the money saved from the scrapping of the Public Service Department’s (PSD) overseas scholarships will be put to better use in “improving the facilities” of local universities. (Two days earlier, Nazri had said the government “did not have the “capacity” to finance the studies of the growing pool of bright students in the country”!)

On 24 July 2010, whilst commenting on Talent Corp., respected academician and retired politician Toh Kin Woon said that it may not succeed because the government has failed to tackle the real causes of the diaspora – “racial discrimination; the lack of an open, democratic space; and declining quality of our country’s education”.

Stripping the government bare of its hypocrisy, Toh said that the “haemorrhage of skills, knowledge and talents” was mainly due to the “continued resort to using race as a tool by power elites at the Federal Government ostensibly to help the Bumiputeras, but whose aim is in fact to nurture cronies. The victims of this race-based policy are the poor and middle class of all ethnic groups.”

The latest government statement on Talent Corp. came from its CEO Johan Mahmood Merican who in an interview with Malaysiakini (2 March 2011) was adamant that its operations “will be based on merit” despite mounting pressure from Malay rights NGOs for the Economic Transformation Programme to cling to policies benefitting bumiputeras.

Will Johan’s assurance turn out to be a big joke one day? Will Talent Corp. be Talent Crap? It is indeed difficult to be optimistic considering the on-going exodus and that very little has changed!

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  1. #1 by monsterball on Thursday, 10 March 2011 - 11:51 am

    Real cunning buggers!
    They created double standards …frustrating smart Malaysians with no future..unless take orders from UMNO B blockheads….and promoting race dirty poilitics to the limit…and here pretend.. not to know…why so many leave Malaysia to seek jobs and rightful positions elsewhere?
    Unbelievalble hypocrites…these crooks are.

  2. #2 by KohJL on Thursday, 10 March 2011 - 11:59 am

    Q:
    Some say that sending students to Europe and the United States causes brain drain, as the best stay on in their new countries. Will scientists from developing countries now start flocking to China, India and Brazil?

    A:
    In my experience, scientists don’t leave their countries because they might get paid more elsewhere. They leave because they do not feel safe in their countries. It’s about governance. Once it is safe to return, and once the government starts speaking about promoting science-based development, many choose to come back. We see this in Rwanda.

    – Interview between NatureNews and Romain Murenzi, Director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Center for Science, Technology and Sustainability. He is also the Science Minister for Rwanda. The full interview is published here:
    http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110218/full/news.2011.108.html

  3. #3 by singa pura pura on Thursday, 10 March 2011 - 12:03 pm

    If one were to distill all of the reasons for Malaysians leaving Malaysia and condense it into one single drop of rationale – it would be this: Malay first, Malaysian second. That single drop was exactly the extract or essence of racism which Muhyiddin Yassin gulped down without a second thought. God bless Malaysia.

  4. #4 by k1980 on Thursday, 10 March 2011 - 1:05 pm

    SEREMBAN, March 10 — A Seremban High Court assistant and a Prisons Department staff were charged in the Sessions Court here today with accepting a RM2,000 bribe to remove a file on a rape case from the court.

    The court staff, Mohd Tarmidzi Zulkapli, 27, and Adi Lala Rahim Mansah, 26, who is with the Seremban Prisons Department, are charged with accepting a bribe from one Mohd Azam Azhari Juhari at the Ar Robah Restaurant, Taman Desa Anggerik, Senawang, on September 19, 2008. Mohd Tarmidzi and Adi Lala Rahim pleaded not guilty and claimed trial to the charge.
    :
    :
    See, with the type of guardians (sold their consciences fro RM1,000 each) manipulating the judiciary system, Saifool a/l Rectum ( the first year university dropout ) would soon be appointed the dean of universiti malaya.

  5. #5 by Loh on Thursday, 10 March 2011 - 2:55 pm

    ///On 24 July 2010, whilst commenting on Talent Corp., respected academician and retired politician Toh Kin Woon said that it may not succeed because the government has failed to tackle the real causes of the diaspora – “racial discrimination; the lack of an open, democratic space; and declining quality of our country’s education”.

    Stripping the government bare of its hypocrisy, Toh said that the “haemorrhage of skills, knowledge and talents” was mainly due to the “continued resort to using race as a tool by power elites at the Federal Government ostensibly to help the Bumiputeras, but whose aim is in fact to nurture cronies. The victims of this race-based policy are the poor and middle class of all ethnic groups.”///–Martin jalleh

    The above two paragraphs sum up the situation perfectly.

    The government chooses to try all sorts of quick fix but refuses to solve the problem at its root.

    If the government stops its discrimination, Malaysian talents overseas would return. But obviously, the government wants the best talents from everywhere, 5000 of them a year. The code words are they want Muslims to replace Malaysians who are mainly non-Muslims who have left. The Talent Corp., hope to bring back 500 Malaysians a year, while NEP drives out 50,000 or more every year. So the Talent Corp., has other motives than stopping brain drain among Malaysians born the wrong races.

    There is no need to give any incentive to induce Malaysians to return. Just stop forcing them to go away and the drain would stop. Malaysians overseas do not want to return now just for some incentive, and have their children subject to the same discrimination environment and head for migration in their teens.

    What pushes Malaysians out of the country is NEP. Why can’t Najib remove NEP which is unconstitutional in the first place? He cannot because Mamakthir said so. Mamakthir wants NEP to continue partly because he did not want Najib to outperform him as PM, for the good of the nation. In fact, as far as evaluating Mamakthir performance is concern, the subject is what less harm could he have not inflicted on Malaysia.

    NEP was formulated to prevent a repeat of May 13. But UMNO youth threatened to bring forth May 13, after three decades and more of NEP. So with or without NEP, May 13 would result if UMNO so decides. Similarly May 13 would not happen if UMNO so decides. NEP is irrelevant to the onset of another May 13. So NEP should go.

    Mamakthir said that Malays cannot compete in business if NEP is removed. NEP has been in place for 40 years. If Malays cannot compete after enjoying 40 years of NEP how could extending the same formula make Malays competitive in the future? If NEP was beneficial, then 40 years of it had doubled what Tun Razak promised the duration that it should have ended. Clearly the argument is not relevant. Besides NEP had two main objectives; firstly it was to remove poverty irrespective of race. If there are still poor Malays and poor non-Malays, the government can easily register all of them. Make them the designated beneficiary of PEP, poverty eradication programme. The second objective was to break the link between race and religion. NEP makes Malays more closely linked to government services. The longer NEP stays government service would become Malays service. In all other fields, Malays predominate.

    The 30% target on equity ownership is the excuse the government depends on to continue with NEP. The government lies with irrelevant statistics, to prove that the objective had not been met. A Royal Commission of Inquiry to determine the correct use of statistics is in order.

    If at all, there is a shortfall from the 30% target, a budget should be allotted to purchase the balance, and immediately allocate share, free of charge, equally to all the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak. The national registration has a list of all Malaysians and the distribution could be handled professionally. So NEP can die a good death, as soon as possible.

  6. #6 by HJ Angus on Thursday, 10 March 2011 - 7:54 pm

    We should just forget about that 30% target as it is a mirage.
    Already the 30% has been allocated via cheap share issues but the recipients just sold for quick gain and then line up for more.
    They can own whatever % they like as long as they pay for it.

  7. #7 by Loh on Thursday, 10 March 2011 - 8:45 pm

    HJ Angus :
    We should just forget about that 30% target as it is a mirage.
    Already the 30% has been allocated via cheap share issues but the recipients just sold for quick gain and then line up for more.

    They can own whatever % they like as long as they pay for it.

    That 30% is UMNO’s promise of enough is enough. They take that as an excuse. So, bankrupt the country oil revenue to pay for the shares and let the Malays and the natives (UMNO would certainly object) share them equally. UMNOputras certainly do not agree, but the ordinary Malays would. After all, the ordinary Malays would prefer to have the money to spend now than waiting to become UMNOPutras. It is better to have a quick short pain now than to have the needling dragged on forever.

  8. #8 by waterfrontcoolie on Thursday, 10 March 2011 - 11:28 pm

    The Super-Ego has fooled the real Bumis who are caught sinks and tackles in their stomachs and will continue to seek the easy way out. Talent Corp will provide some high-paying jobs to some Bumis but will never get the real talents back. The fear of one’s shadow has indoctrinated them so much that any hints of fair opportunity will be branded sellout by the celup-Malays! With international talent, the average Malaysians are likely to earn a quarter to half a million ringgit overseas after 5 years of hard but fair competition, why should they come back and listen to all the HP6 sloganeering and be called pendatang???

  9. #9 by PoliticoKat on Friday, 11 March 2011 - 12:18 pm

    Even if CEO Johan Mahmood Merican’s word holds true with the Talent Corp, two glaring problems remain.

    1-What of our children?
    For the rest of Malaysia, NEP-like policies remain. Discrimination is “policy”, seen even in schools and the standard of Malaysian education continues to sink in a quagmire of political causes and social engineering.

    With the ability to go anywhere in the world, why would anyone want to subject their children to the Malaysian education system?

    2- Cost.
    The monetary cost of foreign education is very high. Working overseas, it will take me 4 years to pay off my bills. If I were to work in Malaysia… it would take me 10 years.

    Going back to Malaysia means a big pay cut, both in actual money and in purchasing power. The cost of living in Malaysia is rather high.

    The economics do not work.

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