Ignore race rhetoric, says Talent Corp

The Malaysian Insider | May 16, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 — The man in charge of Malaysia’s talent drive wants overseas Malaysians to ignore the heightening race rhetoric in the country.

In an interview published by the Singapore Straits Times today, Talent Corporation chief Johan Mahmood Merican said that ultimately race rhetoric should not be confused with government policy.

“Ultimately, what gets implemented are the policies of the prime minister and the government,” he told the Singapore newspaper.

Johan’s comments came amid rising concerns that heightening race and religious rhetoric could derail Malaysia’s ambitious drive to attract top talent.

Despite police still investigating unsubstantiated reports of a move towards a Christian Malaysia, Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali threatened Christians nationwide last Saturday that he would wage a crusade or holy war should they proceed with their agenda to usurp Islam.

Ibrahim was referring to the recent row over a controversial newspaper report in Utusan Malaysia entitled “Kristian Agam Rasmi?” (Christianity the official religion?) where it was alleged that DAP leaders and Christian priests were conspiring to take over Putrajaya, abolish Islam as the religion of the federation and install a Christian prime minister.

Christian leaders and DAP members have denied the reports, and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was even forced to host a meeting with the religious chiefs to solve the issue but Ibrahim insisted last night that the report was true.

The rhetoric has turned ugly in recent months, with the Chinese community also coming under fire.

Overseas Malaysians targeted by Talent Corp had raised these concerns at various meetings including a recent one in London, but Johan assured them that Malaysia would push ahead with its economic reforms, he told the Straits Times.

“Yes, there are concerns on various fronts about Malaysia but there are also many things going for us,” he said. “We have a number of sectors that are already internationally competitive — oil and gas, electronics and palm oil.”

Talent Corp was set up in January to undertake the tough job of wooing skilled workers — both Malaysians abroad and foreigners — that the country needs to revive its stagnating economy.

A brain drain is depriving Malaysia of talent, and accounts for a third of the country’s one-million strong diaspora, according to the World Bank Economic Monitor. Singapore alone has absorbed 57per cent of these departing educated workers.

The Straits Times reported that so far, Talent Corp has rolled out two programmes. One is a long-term resident’s pass for skilled foreigners and former Malaysians. The other is the Returning Experts Programme, which aims to woo Malaysian professionals abroad with incentives such as a low tax rate. The latter scheme has stirred up some interest.

Johan said the agency had received many inquiries and some applications, mostly from Malaysians in the United States and Britain in fields like engineering and finance, according to the Straits Times.

But the newspaper said critics doubt that this interest can be sustained, given that Malaysia has managed to draw only 750 professionals home under similar schemes in the past 10 years.

“Such cosmetic changes do nothing to address the main reason Malaysians are leaving,” PKR’s Nik Nazmi Ahmad told the Singapore daily.

  1. #1 by undertaker888 on Monday, 16 May 2011 - 11:16 am

    If you returned you will be bombarded with these race rhetorics day in day out from this immoral regime. Don’t be fooled.

    come back when pr takes over. But don’t forget to come back and vote them out.

  2. #2 by negarawan on Monday, 16 May 2011 - 11:23 am

    Talent Corp = Wishful thinking in serious state of denial

    Face it, majority of Malaysian talents overseas are non-bumis. Why would they want to come back and treated as “pendatang” and having to cope with racist and religious tones from UMNO and its cronies?

  3. #3 by drngsc on Monday, 16 May 2011 - 12:14 pm

    Ayooh Johan,
    Are you stupid or what? Will anyone jump from peace and comfort, into a frying pan and fire? Look at what is happening around you here.Those who would come back, are not worth their salt, and those worth their salt, can see that there is only trouble here, and so will never come back. You took up a tough job. Be realistic, resign, save us all the money. Talent Corps, or Talent Corpse. The present government policies can only mean the latter, Talent Corpse.
    Jail Katak IA, jail Datuk T for a start.

    We need to change the tenant at Putrajaya, and soon.

  4. #4 by bensaw on Wednesday, 18 May 2011 - 2:41 pm

    If you want to return to Malaysia, you must have very clear objectives. Your objectives are, make lots of money and enjoy life – ignore the politics, the social injustive, the rhetorics and religious tussles.
    The only thing that has changed since I left is my outlook and perception towards life. Sticks and stones may hurt me but words will never waiver my aspirations.

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