A better place for their children, not Malaysia

By Melissa Chi
The Malaysian Insider
December 07, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — First-class education system, a corruption-free government, zero tolerance on racism and the basic skill to communicate properly are all on one Malaysian’s mind when he chooses to work in Australia.

Anthony Leong, 30, an application support programmer, said he is considering giving up his Malaysian citizenship and live in Australia permanently, for the sake of his future family.

He said he had become frustrated at the corrupted system, the quality of local university graduates and the red tape he had to go through to apply for welfare support for his 70-year-old disabled aunt, among other things.

He is now a permanent resident in Australia, working for the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, and is considering applying to be an Australian citizen once he has convinced his father and sister to move with him.

Low purchasing power, racism, political instability, low income, race-based policies, crime rates and non-dual citizenship laws are seen as some of the reasons that have kept a lot of Malaysian talents anywhere but here, 300,000 annually to be exact.

Another Malaysian who had also chosen to be Down Under felt unappreciated in Malaysia.

“I am a Malaysian who loves my country but I do not feel loved. Why then should I stay?” Wesley Wong, 25, a software developer in Australia, told The Malaysian Insider.

His deep sense of frustration was echoed by many who are working abroad.

“The country should learn that all Malaysians love their country. Any Malaysian who does not feel appreciated in their own country will definitely find elsewhere to go because they realise that their future is bleak,” he said in an e-mail interview.

Leigh Howard, South Asia director for Talent2 International Limited, told The Malaysian Insider that approximately 300,000 Malaysians leave the country for better education, work and business prospects, quoting figures released by the government.

“That would compare with a figure of 80,000 for a country such as Australia which has a similar size population and workforce,” he said.

He added that Malaysia is lacking talents in the services sector, technology, banking, as well as in oil and gas.

Brian Fernandez, 40, a headhunter for senior and middle management positions for the last decade at Talent Search International, said those talents are lost to Singapore, all over Europe and the Middle East.

“Setting up Talent Corp is a nice blah blah but it’s not real,” he said, dismissing the initiative launched yesterday.

The prime minister announced at its launch yesterday that foreigners and Malaysians living abroad can soon apply for a new resident pass that will allow them to live and work in Malaysia for up to 10 years at a time.

Although he had earlier said that Talent Corporation, which was established under the Prime Minister’s Department, will spearhead initiatives to attract the estimated 700,000 skilled Malaysians currently working abroad, the prime minister did not mention the ambitious figure at the launch.

Instead, Najib announced a new policy to retain and attract talent to Malaysia.

He said the resident pass will be made available to highly-skilled expatriates seeking to continue working and living in Malaysia as well as Malaysians residing overseas.

Unlike an employment pass, he said the resident pass has the advantage of not being tied to an employer and it can be issued for a longer period.

Najib, also the finance minister, said the pass will also be available to those originally from Malaysia as well as their offspring who no longer hold Malaysian citizenship.

Following the announcements, however, he did not specify how the new body will reach out to those “highly-skilled talents”.

Fernandez was sceptical about how the new initiative will pan out, even before the launch yesterday.
“Malaysia is very good with plans, but when it comes to execution, it’s a different story,” he said.

The Malaysian Insider had reported that Singapore had trumped Malaysia in the brain gain stakes, according to a recent Gallup poll which saw the island-state beat some 150 countries to come out as the most favoured destination in the world for educated migrants.

Fernandez cited his family as “a classic case” as one of his sisters is working for the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland and another in Singapore.

Fernandez, who has a university degree and a small child, had also left for Singapore in his late 30s, said that he was “one of thousands who had left Malaysia in the last two years.”

He said Malaysia had lost a lot of talents in technology because the skill is very transferable and that “Singapore is a good example of a vacuum cleaner, sucking talents out of Malaysia.”

He added that Malaysians in the banking and financial industry, especially accountants, are being offered better salaries and benefits abroad, whom he said, usually stay on in the country and do not return.

Fernandez used the biotech industry in Malaysia as an example of the many sectors which need to improve, to gain talents.

“Singapore went through that as well. They had a 10-year plan, bought global talents from the UK, the US, there were a lot of PhD students. They grew the talent pool and now they have more than 1,000 PhD holders,” he said.

He credited the government for its efforts and said that at least Malaysia is headed in the right direction as he noticed that talents are being paid better in recent years and that senior management salaries had gone up in government agencies as well as government-linked companies.


Howard said that even though there is an incentive package for repatriating Malaysians which includes tax exemption for importing a car and leeway for their children to enter international schools, “however more could be done.”

Under the Human Resources Ministry’s “Return of Experts Programme”, an approved returnee is entitled to bring back two cars tax-free, as well as the applicant’s accumulated income, also tax-free.

However, this is hardly an incentive as in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries which do not have approved permits (AP) or prohibitive taxes on imported cars.
Howard said the solution to this brain drain phenomenon is twofold.

“In a broader sense, the same types of economic and social conditions which attract quality immigration will assist with repatriation, (for example) there needs to be material improvements in education, career and working life.

“At the same time, there are some very specific initiatives that would target and attract Malaysians to return home. All of them involve a considerably more detailed and proactive approach,” he said.

He suggested the government follow the footsteps of large multinational companies in the private sector that invest heavily in their employee value proposition (EVP) and review specifically at this target group.

He also said the level of outreach needs to be highly proactive as policies and standard incentive programmes can only go so far.

“(The government) needs to adopt a less passive and highly rigorous approach to identification, communication, and interaction with this pool of people. It’s not impossible to map out and identify Malaysians living overseas, it just involves work. Following up from this, the type of engagement programme needs to be sophisticated enough to have a long-term impact on repatriation numbers. Whether it’s accelerated resettlement, incentive programmes or fundamental changes to the Malaysian economy … will also play a role,” he said.

“It may not come as a surprise that the private sector is already undertaking its own efforts to identify and repatriate Malaysians into mission critical roles within their organisations,” he said.
Fernandez said some of the ways to stop Malaysian talents from leaving are to have better physical security, better policing and opportunities, adding that “it’s not always about the money”.

“A trickle will be a flood. If there are opportunities, people will come back,” he said optimistically.

Currently, he said there is a net outflow rather than inflow of talents and warned that it will get worse next year.

However, Fernandez said that losing Malaysians might not be the end of the prime minister’s vision for the country to be a high-income and a developed nation by 2020.
“If we are losing Malaysians and can’t get them back, then hire foreigners. It’s not easy for a foreigner to get work permit here and that’s a mistake. It should be more difficult for unskilled workers,” he said.

In the National Economic Advisory Council (NEAC) report on the New Economic Model (NEM), it says that the numbers of expatriates have fallen from nearly 90,000 in 2000 to nearly half of that by 2008.
The net result is a “shortage of dynamic talent to push Malaysia into higher added value activities”.

“We are competing globally, so we need to look globally. It’s not a zero-sum game, it is not that if you bring in a foreigner, it’s at the expense of a local,” he said, adding that bringing in international talents can spur more job opportunities.


Howard was quick to add that Malaysia is not alone in the brain drain phenomenon, and that every country experiences immigration and emigration flows, which constantly affects the calibre of the workforce.

“What you need to do is examine is the brain exchange, (for example) that you ensure the skills entering the country are at least the same or ideally superior than those exiting. Malaysia’s challenge is that our emigrants are more skilled than our immigrants (and our general population),” he said.

Howard stressed that the government should improve on the selection, settlement and integration of skilled immigrants to help boost the quality of the workforce in Malaysia. He said that not only do skilled immigrants provide a higher calibre workforce through their own efforts, but they also indirectly improve the skills and knowledge of those around them.

The report by the NEAC on the NEM laments that “we are not developing talent and what we do have are leaving”.

The report says that currently, some 350,000 Malaysians are working abroad, with over half of them having tertiary education.

This leaves more than 80 per cent of the workforce with SPM-level qualification, and their wages are being continually suppressed by the vast availability of foreign workers and other barriers like subsidies and price controls.

According to the World Bank, Malaysians residing overseas numbered only 9,576 in 1960 while the world’s total registered migration was 382,912 per nation. By 2005, the world’s registered migration increased to an average of 919,302 per nation, an increase of 2.4 times. However, Malaysia’s emigration numbers rose to 1,489,168, an almost 100-fold increase over the 45-year period.

Many first world countries have schemes to attract talents from all over the world. The closest example is Singapore, which has employer-sponsored (Scheme 1) working visas, which are issued within three working days on receipt of application. And under its Scheme 4, top-notch professionals are “purposely” sought from all over the world and attracted to reside in Singapore.

Jonathan Monteiro, 28, a headhunter, described this phenomenon as a chicken or egg situation, where because of the lack of talents in Malaysia in certain industries, investors hesitate to invest, hence the limited pool of Malaysian talents will opt to leave the country for better opportunities, mostly to where the said companies invested in.

Monteiro said most Malaysians are tempted to work abroad because salaries offered are more attractive.

For example, he said, certain jobs in Qatar pay Malaysians about 85 per cent more than what they do here. Monteiro said he is considering moving to Qatar next year to be in the human resources industry.

“When you come back, you’ll definitely need to take a salary cut,” he said, adding that no one he knows was working in a company in Malaysia that could match their salaries abroad.

He said, however, that some of them will eventually return to Malaysia, “simply because it is home.”


Lyvian Loh, 27, a market analyst in the US, said among other things, health insurance is very affordable, there is freedom of speech and it has a less stressful lifestyle.

She said there is also “lesser expectations of entertaining your superiors to get a better positions or to get promoted”, the pay is relevant to your degree or ability, and that the purchasing power is higher there than in Malaysia.

“It is definitely a problem for the country but is a benefit for the particular individual. If a country doesn’t appreciate the talents and qualifications in their own country, the individual may as well go to a better place where people appreciate them while giving them a better life,” she said of the brain drain phenomenon.

Jesse Lee, 30, a senior accountant in the US, said following completion of her degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, she had only wanted to stay on for a few years to learn the culture and the working lifestyle there, but had since changed her mind.

“Gradually, I fell in love with the people, environment and the surroundings here. Not only there’s the higher salary, you get the freedom you don’t have back home. You know, here’s just like what Alicia Keys described in her song — if you can make it here, you can make it everywhere, concrete jungle is where the dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do.

“It gives you hope. You know as long as you work hard, you will achieve what you dreamed of. But there’s a huge trade off for working abroad. You don’t get to see your families and friends often,” she said.

Asked what the solutions might be, she said the government should “walk the talk.”

“1 Malaysia isn’t just a slogan. The government should really put in effort to unite the people and create a ‘home’ for us. Fix the corruption and reduce crimes,” she said.

Wong had similar initial plans as Lee and had also changed his course.

“I had wanted to return to Malaysia to help my family business when I was studying for my bachelor’s but some time in 2007/2008 but I changed my mind and decided to stay in Australia. This was because I saw no future in Malaysia with the current system in place. My parents had advised me to stay in Australia as well,” he said.

Wong called for open tenders for projects, lower crime rates and that the government should do away with race-based policies and emphasise on meritocracy instead.

“The brain drain phenomenon has been a problem since many years ago. Many Malaysians have realised that you will never get anywhere if you don’t pull the right strings. This has spurred many Malaysians to leave the country in search of greener pastures where they can be appreciated.
Malaysia has been stuck in the middle-income trap for many years and will still be for many years to come because the level of education there is appalling.

“Malaysia can’t continue on with its manufacturing sectors because many other countries can do the same thing for a cheaper price but yet Malaysia continues to churn out many sub-par graduates with poor language skills. As it goes, Malaysia won’t move on to the next stage after manufacturing, which is to start designing and inventing products because of the lack of talent in the country,” he said.

Among other things that Malaysians working abroad complain about are the rampant racism which they felt is more tolerated in Malaysia compared to where they are, having to choose only one citizenship and oppressive laws such as the Internal Security Act.

  1. #1 by monsterball on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 10:51 am

    It means nothing to the Govt…and the more Malaysian Chinese leave Malaysia…the better for them..one vote less against them.
    From the start Mahathir embarked on the road to encourage race issues and double standards..he knows many from the minority group will leave.
    However he and Najib must find ways to twist….saying those leaving the country to work elsewhere are not loyal Malaysians..this and that.
    Twisting truths and facts into something entirely different is what these sly foxes are good at.
    Repeated over and over again…exposed in Parliament endlessly by LKS…have open minds to think and not simple believe what you read or heard from Njib’s mouth.

  2. #2 by Cinapek on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 11:02 am

    As far as the non Malays are concerned, it is the push factor of the blatant discrimatory policies prompted by racism that first made them look overseas. And once they look, the pull factors of better salaries, better lifestyle and better quality of life will override the hesitation of uprooting themselves and moving abroad and leaving their loved ones behind. These has been made easier because many parents are now actually encouraging their children to stay abroad after graduation because they too are disillusioned with the developments at home. Wanting the best for their children they are prepared to make the sacrifice of not having their children around them in their old age as long as thier children has a better chance in life.

    In this respect, Singapore is an ideal choice because apart from its many merit based opportunities with its attendent rewards, it is also near to “home” for many Malaysians.

  3. #3 by k1980 on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 11:32 am

    //Wong called for open tenders for projects, lower crime rates and that the government should do away with race-based policies and emphasise on meritocracy instead.//

    Dream on, you stupid mata sepet. Where is umno going to get its fortune if there is open tender, meritocracy ect?

  4. #4 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 11:39 am

    Incidentally, three biologically related brothers from my church (all with a university degree) are emigrating to Canada. The two younger brothers left for Canada last year. The eldest one will be going there in six months time after selling all his properties.

  5. #5 by HJ Angus on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 11:47 am

    Part of the reason why it is more stressful in Malaysia is that people in the private sector have to work harder to compensate for the excessive burden of the over-staffing in the civil service.

  6. #6 by HJ Angus on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 11:50 am

    Singapore also has high work stress and some bosses ar workaholics; especially some single careeer women.
    My daughter has been working in the UK for more than 5 years and she would rather stay there fo better work/life balance.

  7. #7 by grace on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 12:16 pm

    My friend has three children, all of them super good with straight As in A levels. One of them a meducak doctor, another a top economist working for Morgan Stanley in New york and another an engineer have migrated to USA.
    Another family with two medical doctor soons are staying in Australia. Lots more to be listed.

  8. #8 by dawsheng on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 12:27 pm

    It is easy to complaint you know, why not just come back to vote for change of government in the next general election? Surely that should be the logical action to take considering these overseas Malaysians are the one with brains. Stand up to be counted cause other than that, nah! The grass is always greener on the other side.

  9. #9 by Taikohtai on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 12:31 pm

    It used to be a case when every Malaysian NON knows of a friend or relative who has migrated. Today, it is no longer a case of a friend but a close relative or sibling. If BN is re-elected (Almighty forbid!) it will be a case of every other BIN or BINTI scampering overseas joining the exodus.

  10. #10 by HJ Angus on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 12:57 pm

    unfortunately some Malaysians abroad do not even want to discuss Malaysian politics as it just leaves a bad taste in their mouths – of course many have also given up Malaysian citizenship.
    I have about 10 classmates(SC class of 1964) in Melbourne and they all move there at least 15 years ago. Many do come back often as tourists!

  11. #11 by undertaker888 on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 1:15 pm

    to those mahadevils, the more the si sepet and si botol leave, the merrier. this is their evil hidden agenda like the BTN.

    this is their “final solution” for the si sepet and si botol. if your kind choose to stay, we will make it difficult for you. the only way out is to vote them out no matter what. whatever PR is the lesser evil, or the same kind, bla bla…this bigger evil umno must GO!!!

  12. #12 by Godfather on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 1:15 pm

    Good riddance….there’s now more space under the rambutan tree….and the possibility of being envious of cintanegara’s rambutan fruits is now diminished.

  13. #13 by tak tahan on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 1:15 pm

    The actual non-bumis(mamak,bugis n umno goons) are nicely swindling n reaping bolehland coffer while sending their childrens abroad to acquire better education;meanwhile stocking all the ill gains for their old days.So these real unpatriotic buggers will compete among them to plunder nation resources until dry.There will be no brain gain as long these unpatriotic lanuns stay in power.

  14. #14 by raven77 on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 1:47 pm

    In Russia…their pilots and air traffic controllers must now learn English compulsorily..to avoid miscommunication and eventual accidents….

    Yes…Russia and eventually China, etc

    What do we do in Malaysia…???

    The British gave us a headstart almost 200 years ago….Within the space of 30 years we Melayufied everything in sight and made this country a 4th world degenerate…..

    Those who have a good command of English and thus propects…get out while you can!

  15. #15 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 2:33 pm

    It is possible that this discussion of talent migration is already moot i.e., too late. The truth is if you look at the future challenges in the next 20 years, its really boils down to 3 things things – energy, inflation and jobs.

    At the moment we are seeing poor job and economic growth in developed countries as their central bank is inflating their economy. At the same time, you see emerging market manipulating their currencies and keeping wages low to keep growing without the developed world as economic engines. All this just means that eventually, inflation will rear its ugly head and energy prices will skyrocket. The developed world economy will ultimately accept low growth and their highly trained citizens will turn to global markets for jobs and opportunities.

    It means that if you are a locally mediocrely trained Malaysian, you will be saddled with low wages, frequent unemployment, high inflation. There is no way the badly trained Malaysian can keep up in productivity to avoid the ravages of high inflation and energy and frequent unemployment. This is especially so because we are turning into a net energy importer, uncompetitive currency, maximized resource base country.

    For the next generation of Malaysian, there is no choice but to go global – you go where you can max out your earnings because the govt of Malaysia will punish you if you don’t avoid its clutches. That means working overseas or starting a business overseas or avoiding taxes. Its the only way you can stay ahead.

  16. #16 by cto on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 3:14 pm

    dawsheng :It is easy to complaint you know, why not just come back to vote for change of government in the next general election? Surely that should be the logical action to take considering these overseas Malaysians are the one with brains. Stand up to be counted cause other than that, nah! The grass is always greener on the other side.

    I do not think that anyone mentioned in the article is complaining. They are either stating an opinion or facts.

    If things do not improve within Pakatan Rakyat, it is only a marginal improvement over the current Govt. Even if it is voted in, PR doesn’t have what it takes to turn the tide significantly. Take that as a fact or my opinion – your choice.

  17. #17 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 3:42 pm

    Strange this Talent Corp to attract Talent when all along we do not appreciate and value Talent; where Meritocracy is abjured and the upholding of Ketuanan/Race rather than Talent is the national ethos (in all aspects).

  18. #18 by wanderer on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 5:08 pm

    I have left Malaysia 28 years ago….not a minute did I regret leaving this so called, “rambutan land”, happy now cintanegara, lesser pendatangs will take your forbidden fruits.
    Of late, I heard from many parents who have children studying overseas have discouraged their children from returning and to take up PR after graduation. Wise thinking!!

  19. #19 by Ray on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 5:59 pm

    Empty vessel makes loud noise…..analogy of Umno lawmakers

  20. #20 by negarawan on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 7:37 pm

    It is part of UMNO’s plan to drive away non-Bumi’s from Malaysia so that a certain race can lord over the whole country, as what a fat lady once said that her race need to regain all the power lost over the last 400 years.

  21. #21 by pulau_sibu on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 7:57 pm

    The good ones are all gone, so we are left with the lousy politicians. Then how are we going to improve the country? It can only become worse.

    Why the so called smartest people with all the best score and high education cannot win over the lousiest politicians? Perhaps these politicians are better than the smartest people.

    The smartest people may have to give themselves a real thought – Am I really smart, or I am smart only in the paper?

  22. #22 by tak tahan on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 10:15 pm

    Pulau sibu,i think ur a smart potential brain drain.
    Anyway najis should create robot corp to churn out more robotic factory workers.Or robotic rambutan pluckers for cintanegara.

  23. #23 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 10:15 pm

    ///Why the so called smartest people with all the best score and high education cannot win over the lousiest politicians? Perhaps these politicians are better than the smartest people/// – #21 by pulau_sibu.

    That’s an interesting poser. Best Guess is:

    We are in an environment in which those in power helped by laws made by them take away opportunities from those who are
    willing to work and give to those who would not.

    Smart ones leave because, being smart, they are availed alternative opportunities in other environments that commensurate their talents. The presence of alternatives weakens the will to stay & fight, the absence the opposite effect as a cornered cat will fight a Pitbull!

    To stay and fight, they, being smart are aware the odds are stacked against their success.

    This is because of power imbalances, with the smart having less power. In any grouping and society organised upon a democracy of 1 man 1 vote where the smart represents not more than 5%, then obviously the less smart majority by sheer voting strength can impose their will on matters regardless they are right or wrong. Under such a system if majority were tyranical then one man one vote would resemble a mob rule based on tyranny of majority over minority.

    Power imbalances also arise when the opposite side is functioning as a gang/clique that respects no ethical or legal boundaries: for eg this is seen in the lawful forum organised by Aliran and a 13-member non-governmental organisation grouping known as Article 11 to discuss Article 121 of the Federal Constitution, which though issued with a police permit, was asked by police, in the interest of public order, to stop in accommodation of th demands of an illegal gathering of 500 people outside shouting and threatening violence.

    There is a limit to what educated smart person could do because he respects ethical boundaries and distinguish between of what is right from that which is wrong. If his opponent being less smart to understand or respect any such boundaries, he would have more latitude, including crossing over to violence to enforce his demand.

    How does a smart man fight against unreason and tyranny when by the nature of his learning and culture he is not inclined to be unreasonable and tyrannical???

    The smart has also less power when those in power (eg politicians) who side those who are unreasonable/tyrannical.

    The smart find it hard to fight politicians who are unethical and ruthless as the latter are ever ready to use draconian laws and coercive instruments of the state vested in them.

    That such politicians are unethical and ruthless is common place. It is often that ruthlessness and lack of scruples that have enabled them to demolish rivals and wedge themselves to positions of power in the first place, legitimized by the votes and support of masses whose sentiments they could exploit and manipulate, regardless of right or wrong of any given position.

    There is nothing very empowering about or particularly advantageous about engaging in a fight against an enemy with reason that it wants to have you for dinner by force if his reason fails him!

    The house always wins.

    So the smart one looks elsewhere for a more congenial environment rather than stay right the un-rightable wrong and fight an unbeatable foe.

  24. #24 by lee wee tak_ on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 10:22 pm

    one other reason top talents won’t bother to come back is the dis-enablers in Malaysia.

    look at the unimpressive counter service people in government offices. if one is used to efficient and pleasant service in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, USA…then dealing with Malaysian officials is a pain.

    Sure, there is some improvement here and there but recently I went to JPJ office in Wangsa Maju and the attitude of the front desk personnel indicated that BTN had done their jobs very well. a racial composition that reflect the actual mix of the country will surely improve the situaion. While UMNO talk about 30% bumi shareholding, why not talk about 30% non-bumi representation in all public service?

    that is on top of the usual stuff like less than satisfactory city planning, safety issues, expensive private health care and dangerous public healthcare system etc

  25. #25 by Godfather on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 10:53 pm

    “While UMNO talk about 30% bumi shareholding, why not talk about 30% non-bumi representation in all public service?”

    Be careful what you ask for. Are we asking the 30 pct to do all the work while the 70 pct sit idly under the rambutan tree and continue to enjoy salaries and perks and promotional prospects to the detriment of the 30 pct ? Look at the GLCs. How many of them have non-bumi CEOs ? Look at Khazanah and EPF ? How many division heads are non-bumis ? Look at our universities. How many government controlled universities have non-bumi vice-chancellors ? The key word is meritocracy, and then the percentages don’t matter.

  26. #26 by dawsheng on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 1:19 am

    We should ask why the opposition failed to inspire people with brains to stay. Whenever the issue is highlighted in the media, it is as convenient as one finger pointing the other way and score some brownie points. That didn’t change the fact that more are considering to leave for greener pasture. I guess since these are people with brains then they must also be able to put their faculty to good use when making such decisions. It must have been that the possibilities elsewhere outweigh the present circumstances, whatever that maybe, Malaysians with brains saw no hope of change. In this regard, the exodus of skillful Malaysians can be attributed to lack of confident in our politicians from both side of the divide. Hence, the significant numbers of migration are a testament to the failure of Pakatan Rakyat to inspire confident more than bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.

  27. #27 by dawsheng on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 1:27 am

    I hope cto is happy now.

  28. #28 by AhPek on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 1:56 am

    ‘Hence,the significant numbers of migration are testament to the failure of Pakatan Rakyat
    to inspire confidence more than bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.’

    I find the logic leading to this conclusion rather intriguing.

  29. #29 by dawsheng on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 4:22 am

    In some ways, we can think of talents from Malaysia as someone who is very efficient in solving problems, for example, leave! In the context of nationalism, they are almost like mercenaries in some sort, looking from afar often with mix feelings and once in a while, some pleasant wishful thinking. Glad that you also find the BN government sucks, thank you, I am feeling much better now.

  30. #30 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 4:37 am

    Having “being treated unfairly” is the condition under present regime. It is the push factor for the Smart to leave.

    Hope of change is however not only dependent on prospects of regime change but also whether, after the regime change, a real change of conditions in the country for the better, as promised by PR’s polticians,
    is perceived likely.

    If, having regard to the quality of PR’s politicians, the answer were “no”, then all hope of change for the better is effectively extinguished causing the Disillusioned/Smart to continue migrate.

    Is this not what you meant by ‘Hence,the significant numbers of migration are testament to the failure of Pakatan Rakyat to inspire confidence more than bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly’?

    (Reference : your remarks “Malaysians with brains saw no hope of change” and “the exodus of skillful Malaysians can be attributed to lack of confidence in our politicians from both sides of the divide”).

  31. #31 by passerby on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 4:43 am

    The smart ones left because they cannot fight with those holding the keris every time the smart ones raise the question of equality and meritocracy.

    How can you fight fairly with the pseudo-malay mamak holding the keris or Najib or the Kerismuddin all of them have threatened the non-bumis with their keris?

  32. #32 by undertaker888 on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 8:55 am

    if you are already migrated overseas, dont come back while the evil regime is still around.
    if you are malaysian working overseas, choose to pay your tax to the host country and not to this evil regime.
    if you are malaysian and reside overseas, remember to come back to vote off this evil regime.

  33. #33 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 9:40 am

    It is not whether you are smart or not that gets you ahead in Malaysia.

    It is decided by race and religion.

  34. #34 by Godfather on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 11:00 am

    “Hope of change is however not only dependent on prospects of regime change but also whether, after the regime change, a real change of conditions in the country for the better, as promised by PR’s polticians,
    is perceived likely. ” Jeffrey

    After 53 years of pillaging and broken promises by BN, how can anyone think that “more of the same by BN” is the way to go ? I’ll take the promises of Anwar, Kit, Nik Aziz anytime over the promises of a proven corrupt regime. And if their promises are also proven to be empty, and corruption remains as rampant as under BN, then I can stop voting and retire to the shade of my own rambutan tree – not necessarily in Bolehland.

    I find it strange that everyone is doubting PR when the coalition has a track record of less than 3 years in certain states. It has zero track record in federal government. Give PR a chance – until they have proven to have failed us.

  35. #35 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 12:20 pm

    A track record of less than 3 years in certain states notwithstanding I think (in dawsheng’s terms, correct me if I were wrong) is that the “smart” project their vision a little further and get disillusioned based on the power grabbing in PKR’s recent party elections ala UMNO style and also the inherent unbridgeable ideological chasm between PAS & DAP when even the ‘enlightened’ Spiritual head Nik Aziz qualified that our Kit could be PM if he converted – which is in line with theocratic state concept that the leader must be Muslim, never mind race. People’s grouses (when they migrate) are not just regarding ethnocentric race policies but also religious extremism by their standards.

    Also its not entirely a take on the type and quality of leaders, whether PR or BN but a take on the ground whether the majority who determine who rules eventually will, as a matter of political maturity, require their politicians of both divide to move their politics out of this ethnocentric and religious centric themes. If no, or if yes only in the next 200 years, where’s the hope?

    Whilst its true PR has not yet been given opportunity to prove or disprove negative aspects of administration, the young and qualified have to projct and think ahead, make decisions, based on their best sense of the situation even on imperfect information presently on how things will play out.

    They cannot wait till the come to the river to see that there’s no bridge there – there’s an opportunity cost – so they look at the signs of the road leading there whether there is a concrete or rickety bridge way ahead or no bridge.

    The older one with a nest can no doubt wait because when they come to the river eventually and see there’s no bridge, there’s still a helicopter to ferry them across!

  36. #36 by Godfather on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 12:25 pm

    Yes, with BN there’s the guarantee that there is no bridge across the river. With PR, there MIGHT be a bridge. The key here is that the smart people already have the means to charter helicopters if indeed there is no bridge. I MIGHT have to use my money, if there is no bridge with PR in charge. I WILL have to use my money if BN is in charge, that’s for sure.

    So how would you choose, counselor ?

  37. #37 by Godfather on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 12:32 pm

    The smart people are simply outnumbered by the not-so-smart people, and in a one-man-one-vote system, the smart ones are outnumbered and outvoted. So most of the smart people have contingency plans. For Dawsheng to ask why PR is so inept at inspiring smart people to stay or return is like putting the cart before the horse. PR is in no position to make policies until it controls Putrajaya. I will condemn PR’s ineptness to stem the brain drain only when PR is in charge.

  38. #38 by dawsheng on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 12:35 pm

    If, having regard to the quality of PR’s politicians, the answer were “no”, then all hope of change for the better is effectively extinguished causing the Disillusioned/Smart to continue migrate. – Jeffrey

    Yes, I think we cannot ignore or deny that the prospect of change, as in this case quality of PR politicians and its leaders, but most importantly their ambiguous agendas, are in fact contributing factors and important decision points, clearly did not rise to the occasion.

  39. #39 by undertaker888 on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 12:39 pm

    which toilet will one choose? a 53 year old stinking toilet which we know if given another 5 years, WILL stink even worse.

    or a 3 year old toilet that MAY stink? but we all MAY get a say how to clean it up.

    I choose the MAY stink over the WILL stink anytime. Unless someone give me a new toilet.

  40. #40 by dawsheng on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 12:54 pm

    PR is so inept at inspiring smart people to stay or return is like putting the cart before the horse. PR is in no position to make policies until it controls Putrajaya. I will condemn PR’s ineptness to stem the brain drain only when PR is in charge. – Godfather

    If the smart people are outnumbered, say 1 million against 28 million, surely it make affordable sense to pass over. Furthermore, smart people are harder to convince, like to play hard to get, have very high expectations, in fact smarter than the politicians who claim to know everything. Whereas the not-so-smart people can be trick into believing tomorrow will be better so please vote for us, here’s your choice cause you ain’t so smart. Right?

  41. #41 by undertaker888 on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 12:58 pm

    the evil regime is like a prostitute in business for 53 years. violent, dirty, vile, full of disease from years of prostituting itself to all kind of lust known to mankind.

    while on the other hand we had a prostitute who was in the business for only 3 years, which thru some nurturing from the rakyat, may actually turn her around.

    but first the young prostitute must eject the influence from the vile, old prostitute in order to save itself.

  42. #42 by undertaker888 on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 1:27 pm

    //Whereas the not-so-smart people can be trick into believing tomorrow will be better so please vote for us, here’s your choice cause you ain’t so smart. Right?//dawsheng

    If we were to go to the voting station today, a BN guy come up to you and say “Vote me, tomorrow will be better”. Same, a PR guy came over to say the same thing, which one, based on past experience, will you vote?

    sometimes we talk like we have a crystal ball in our hand knowing we will be tricked or not. Can anyone tell? I vote for him.

    Who vote for Hee, Zul and Katak Ali? Only the not so smart one or including the smart one as well? Or the smart one all voted for BN becuase they have a crystal ball on their hands and know this would happen?

    I guess Lim Kit Siang is not a smart one for endorsing Hee. Nik Aziz the stupid one for accepting Zul and Katak Ali.

    Who is going to trick us tomorrow, dawsheng? do you know?

  43. #43 by Godfather on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 2:04 pm

    “If the smart people are outnumbered, say 1 million against 28 million, surely it make affordable sense to pass over.” Dawsheng

    Yes, if these are the odds, then I would also throw in the towel and won’t bother to vote. The odds are much better for PR than you care to imagine – if the latest by-elections are anything to go by, then we are looking probably at 55:45 in favour of the den of thieves. These are not insurmountable odds as March 2008 has shown. All we need is to spread the word of the need for change, and to give PR a shot at federal governance. Then – only then – can we judge if PR has let us down. Not now, not when the coalition is still trying to find its feet, not when the coalition still has remnants of old UMNO in its wings.

    I tell my children not to bother to come back to work, but they must fulfill their responsibility to vote at every election and if I must pay for their airtickets back to vote, then I will. I know I have the means to cross the river, bridge or no bridge. But I also know that there are so many hapless Malaysians who have no means whatsoever to cross the river or who risk their lives daily to take the rickety bridge built for obscenely inflated costs by BN. That alone motivates me to vote for PR.

  44. #44 by k1980 on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 2:08 pm

    53 years of misrule by bn— just look at the bridge built for schoolkids. the Brits must be shaking their heads in disbelief at the buffoons they gave independence to in 1957


  45. #45 by dawsheng on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 3:01 pm

    I think the ‘give me a chance’ plea that PR is hoping to translate into victory votes is not in touch with reality, nothing more than a political leverage formed by a group of disenchanted sympathizers who, according to undertaker888 still prefer old prostitute than the young one, probably because the old one know how to position herself. This bring us to BN’s two prongs strategy of political doublespeak, one side is open category 1Malaysia and the other the outsourced exclusive club of Ketuanan Melayu, it may seemed unethical, but if we based on Godfather’s prediction 55:45 in favour of BN, it surely made the old prostitute looked rather attractive.

  46. #46 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 3:03 pm


    The issue raised by Dawsheng is not so much of whether to vote for and give a shot at PR as compared to BN with a proven bad track record. That’s easiest thing to do.

    He raises a separate issue in the context of this blog’s subject about our children migrating!

    The considerations implicated in considering this second issue are wider.

    It requires the reading of nuances of whether PR can in the first place win, and if it could win, when and after it has won, whether real change for the better will come.

    It is admittedly acting on a sense and calculated conjecture based on whatever information available now and notwithstanding gaps or imperfection of information – but to the many who are young looking to the future and from where to start, the decision has to be taken, and factors weighed because of the opportunity cost implicated in waiting.

    For those older and have some financial nest, it is different. Opportunity cost is less.

    They can parachute away later with less cost if things turn out bad. Or they don’t even have to: when they are fed up with the political situation they can always take a leave of absence and holiday to regain perspective or detachment.

    So different considerations apply on two distinct different issues : one, whether to vote for BN or PR or give PR a try (which is easier) than two, whether to relocate and migrate, the earlier the better, involving a sense of projection into the future whether there is likely real change even if PR takes over.

    From these perspectives, the points raised by dawsheng are legitimate.

  47. #47 by dawsheng on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 3:30 pm

    Thanks Jeffrey.

  48. #48 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 3:32 pm

    ///The key here is that the smart people already have the means to charter helicopters if indeed there is no bridge/// – Godfather.

    It depends on what one means by “helicopter”. It is true the smart with qualifications and get a job and survive elsewhere. In that sense they don’t need a bridge but have the means to swim across the turbulent river. But reaching over to the other side they can be exhausted and continually have to work and look out for the Good Life.

    What I meant by “helicopters” (my term is more a ‘financial nest’ which the older and more established migrants may have if they not being carted over under the auspices of their children’s foreign citizenship or PR) is sufficient money (even after conversion to the host country’s currency) to live and enjoy the comfortable Good Life there independently without having to depend their livelihood of the Kwei Lo employer or in some cases the restraint of the invisble glass ceiling. For that, the smart and young have to take both the intermediate and longer view of situation here and make decision the earlier the better, as they need time even over anywhere else to consolidate a nest to survive inbdependently (if they are not those who have munificent bequest from rich parents).

    We’re talking in context of the subject raised in this blog. It is not just aquestion of choice whether to vote BN or PR or that PR certainly deserves the vote because with PR there is at least a chance of a bridge whereas with BN it is definitely no bridge (as Godfather has reduced the issue to).

    At least that is what I think is Dawsheng’s drift in his earlier statement that has proven provocative of several responses from readers.

  49. #49 by cto on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 3:55 pm

    dawsheng :I hope cto is happy now.

    Don’t worry about me. I am always happy but that’s quite irrelevant. I just happen not to agree with you on a couple of things –

    1. Per my earlier posting, I do not think that the individuals in the article are complaining.
    2. You also suggested that the logical thing for these smart people to do is to come back and vote. It may be altruistic but it is certainly not logical in my honest opinion.

    Has it ever occur to you that people that have left might actually be happy? If that is the case, coming back solely to vote is a selfless act and not quite a logical one.

    They may not actually be a bunch of whiners which you seem to suggest and therefore the logical thing to do is to come back, get even with the present Govt and vote them out. Then everyone is happy and smart people will stop leaving. I don’t think that it does not quite work that way. Even with the change in govt, the grass on the other side may paler shade of green, nevertheless it may still greener.

    I am not arguing that a change in Govt is a good thing.

  50. #50 by Loh on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 4:05 pm

    It would be strange if the Queen of England would tell some segment of British people, say the whites, to guard against the non-whites in UK. It is strange not because there is no such division in the country, it is strange because the Queen is the queen for all her subjects, whites and non-whites. She realizes at least that she lives of public funds, halal and non-halal included.

    But strangely in one other country the persons who live on public funds derived from the citizens’ input chose to take the side of some of the people when they are not supposed to be involved in politics.

  51. #51 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 4:19 pm

    ///But strangely in one other country the persons who live on public funds derived from the citizens’ input chose to take the side of some of the people when they are not supposed to be involved in politics///.

    Bersih marched to Istana is OK because its an NGO. But Pakatan Rakyat’s Selangor state govt marching with the red shirts to the Istana Negara just to hand over a Memo to DYMM Yang DiPertuan Agong on the Syabas water tariff tussel against Federal / BN’s cronies, asking his Highness to arbiter?

    Isn’t that getting Royalty involved in partisan party politics precisely exactly what Pakatan Rakyat complained about BN’s despicable ursupation of Perak state Assembly and UMNO’s twisting of the meaning of the word “Ketuanan Melayu” to refer to royalty institution? (Same thing on poaching cross overs – both sides advocate the same and yet condemning each other for it without care of internal consistency of principles!)

  52. #52 by Loh on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 4:32 pm

    Khir Toyol has been charged for corruption with regard to the purchase of the Khir Palace. MACC has given us to believe that other than minor offences, such as under-declaring the value of the house purchase and hence the cheating on stamp duties, Khir is all clean. MACC also tells us that all the UMNO Mentri Besar are clean.

    Khir said that he borrowed 3 million RM from the bank to pay for the house (the previous owner paid 6.5 million 15 years ago to create the house) and he spent RM 600,000 renovating the old house. Those in the know said that the house has been torn down and rebuilt. If it costs Khir 600,000 to renovate his house, then housing developers in Klang Valley must have overcharged buyers. Khir has a unique way to economize in the purchase of land and buildings. He should have been asked to construct the crooked bridge; it would not cost a tenth of the 1.3 billion RM, judging on his record with regards to the purchase of his house.

    For argument sake, even if it has been proven that Khir actually paid RM 6.5 million to the previous owner of his house, and spent a further RM 2.5 million renovating it, it only shows that Khir had been able to raise RM 5 million as cash payment. Is MACC going to question Khir how he earned those additional RM 5 billion since his adulthood? If MACC could charge Khir Toyol for being usually rich, judging on whether the persons live within their official means, the same measure could also be used against all the Ministers in Najib cabinet, and that of his predecessors. Clearly MACC would not embark on that route, and Khir Toyal would be found guilty of underreporting the transaction and be fined RM 1,900 for that offence, after the GE 13 has been concluded. It would be interesting to watch whether Khir Toyol would be a candidate in the state election. But then Selangor state government needs not dissolve the state assembly together with the dissolution of the Parliament. Would Khir stand again for the Youth Chief post? Mamakthir might not last till 18 months later, so many would hope, and his son is not likely to stand for the same post again.

  53. #53 by undertaker888 on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 5:19 pm


    The issue raised by Dawsheng is not so much of whether to vote for and give a shot at PR as compared to BN with a proven bad track record. That’s easiest thing to do.

    He raises a separate issue in the context of this blog’s subject about our children migrating!////

    and why our children thinking of migrating? is it bcos BN is doing a good job? we already know why they are migrating. It is the evil regime’s racist policies.

    the question now is whether we give PR a chance to clean up this hegemony or let BN rule again hoping for that leopard to change its spot. I dont know what tomorrow will bring, but from past experiences, dont expect anything to change from BN. they will never give up their corrupt and racist activities. and may get even worse.

    I say just take this one chance than dying in your bed regretting this many years from now not knowing.

  54. #54 by Loh on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 5:35 pm

    Malaysia will take many years to change to pre-1969 days even if PK takes over the federal government in GE 13. The problem is racism is not just at politician level, if government servants are not known as politicians. In the government services, there is clear polarisation of civil servants by race. For example superior officers, let us say 99% of them are Malays, invariably takes the side of the subordinates who are Malays when they are in conflict with other races. Mind you, that conflicts relate to job responsibility, and invariably the superior decides right from wrong based on syed or wong!

    The Minister of Defense said that non-Malays lack the sense of patriotism for not joining armed forces. Well why should non-Malays subject their lives to the whims of the higher-ups to take on the most risky positions? This can be discerned from the treatment non-Malays received in other government institutions. For example even in the Ministry of Health the assignment of officers are done based on race. The preferred job assignments are always given to Malays. The Minister of Health is either blind or pretend to be blind to this fact. The professionals in Health Ministry have come to that conclusion that allocation of duties is tied to race. If racial polarization on job assignment is prevalent within the technical services of government institutions, the situation would certainly be worse in other areas where policy and enforcement are involved.

    The country is doomed since government chose to treat people differently based on race.

    The Royals talked about Malay rights. There is no special right for Malays in the Malaysian constitution. Malays are only referred to as being placed in a special position; they are special because they needed assistance as would an endangered species. There is no special right for Malays as Rulers. The Rulers are hereditary, and they are Rulers because of their birth right, as having been born to the families which have inherited the right to be selected as Rulers. Since Rulers require no prior qualification such as being Malay, the description of them as Malay Rulers is superfluous. They are accepted as Rulers whether or not they have pure Malay blood running in their veins. Even Mamak could become Ruler if he had hereditary right. But the mamak was emperor for 22 years even though he could not be Malay Ruler.

  55. #55 by Loh on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 - 6:17 pm

    Nik Aziz said that if Lim Kit Siang was a devout Muslim, he could be a DPM. Nik Aziz prefers a Muslim to be a DPM. He certainly cannot veto. In fact, the constitution does not have any restriction on Malaysians by operation of law to become prime minister. So, LKS is qualified to be one.

    The not-too-smart Deputy Education Minister WKS of MCA wanted LKY to state his stand. Looks like MCA has nothing better to do. LKS does not have to declare himself DPM when PR has not formed the federal government. If WKS is interested in comment to hypothetical question, then he should answer when would MCA be brave enough to ask to be appointed a restricted-DPM, one who cannot become PM when the vacancy arises.

    Nik Aziz made his remarks as Islamic leader who wishes to include worthy human beings as Muslims. Unfortunately he has not the power to chase those unworthy Muslims out. Nik Aziz wishes LKS to be Muslim just like some Muslims in Penang prayed that LGE would become one. That is a compliment.

    If the law does not restrict persons by race to become PM, the question does not arise for DPM. What good is it to Malays if Malay PM made their income low? What harm does it do to Malays when non-Malay PM made their income high; like LKY did to Singapore Malays?

    Malaysia is the only country in the world that argues about the race of a person as qualification when everywhere else the issue lies in whether the person could perform the job well! That is why Malaysia is a low-income nation. With that mentality, we are not worthy to receive higher income. Mamakthir has created the mindset. He did it so that he could command all the wealth of the nation as his own. He reckoned that Malays can be proud of his wealth, as if they had a share. That is also why the 30% share capital accrued to Malays became important. Mamakthir’s ideology has been Malays would be contented to be poor so long as there were Malays who became filthy rich. Mamakthir made the personal sacrifices to have his children responsible to hold the wealth to make Malays proud.

  56. #56 by on cheng on Thursday, 9 December 2010 - 3:22 pm

    at the current rate, Malaysia may stay in middle income for another 10 years

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