How to get rid of Malaysian talent

— Cass Shan
The Malaysian Insider
May 11, 2012

MAY 11 — It’s no secret that our graduates who study overseas don’t come back.

Many skilled workers have emigrated citing social injustice (60 per cent) and compensation (54 per cent) as reasons for leaving this beautiful country.

Can you blame them though?

We here in Malaysia are stuck with outdated meritocracy benefits and no minimum wage, not to mention low starting pay for fresh graduates.

About 57 per cent head off to Singapore while the rest move to the US, the UK, Australia and other countries. It has to be mentioned that non-Bumiputeras make up the majority of those who have emigrated.

In place of the talents we’re losing, unskilled workers who have primary school education or less are being taken in.

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realise that we are headed towards becoming a nation of low skills.

What can we do about this devastating scenario? For one, we must acknowledge the reasons why people are leaving.

There is a lack of opportunities for locals unless they go abroad. This alone is the main factor. To address this issue, we must effect a change in our social fabric. We must recognise our talents for what they can do and not what skin colour they are born with. People who work hard for their talents and skills must be recognised for the talents and skills in themselves — not whether they carry Bumiputera status on their MyKad or otherwise.

Government bodies are most prone to this trap. More often than not, they hire Bumiputeras — often neglecting more qualified non-Bumis. This is a fact that I’ve witnessed myself: a friend of mine was the only one with experience among a group of fresh graduates applying for a job at a government body and she was not selected. It also goes to show how far backwards we are as she was castigated for wearing a cross to work.

The entire episode unfortunately displays the low mentality of government bodies when it comes to selecting staff. “Skills” do not seem to actually come into their consideration.

I also personally know of a highly talented Malaysian who was denied the top post of a government agency simply because of his skin colour. He earns a top-tier salary and pulls his weight but was denied the post simply because a certain quota had to be fulfilled.

How do we expect smart graduates who have left to return when we flatly deny them their right to fair employment?

Opportunity must present itself based on merit and not race. For too long the race card has been played on to us. The time to dismantle race-based policies is long overdue.

And then there is the issue of salaries.

Take a quick glance at Jobstreet’s salary report and you’ll see how low the average salary is. A fresh graduate is only able to earn about RM2,000 per month while a manager in a small company will only make RM4,000 per month on average (though this increases with the size of the company).

With living costs having risen exponentially in recent years, how are we expected to eke out a decent living with these figures? Those who want to pursue their master’s must either take up the PTPTN loan or earn a scholarship (or work in Singapore for a while — which is what one of my friends did).

Larger companies fork out RM2,000-3,000 for a simple customer service position and RM6,000 for assistant manager roles. Since most middle-class Malaysians earn within this average, it’s easy to see how one would be hard-pressed to afford a house, especially since property prices continue to skyrocket.

For example, a condominium today costs roughly about RM450,000 — translating to a RM45,000 downpayment. With an average salary of RM4,000, one may perhaps save RM500 per month (after deducting expenses) and take up to 90 months to save up for a condominium. That’s 7.5 years! How would young married couples cope with such costs?

Corporations and businesses must increase wages in tandem with the cost of living. This ensures quality staff and better productivity. It’s the norm that employees hate their jobs and simply do them as a means to an end. Where are the days where employees were passionate about their work? How does a company rise without its people?

It should be in the company’s vision to ensure that staff are paid well enough to house and feed themselves. This is not even scratching the surface of the problem as there are many other Malaysians who earn less than RM3,000 or even RM1,500 for that matter. If we were to broach that part of the subject we’d be able to understand why Malaysians would opt to leave the country at the first opportunity.

In summary, the diaspora exists and will most likely grow due to the factors that have been discussed. To reverse the outflow of talent, we desperately need to look at the key issues involved. Then drive home changes that will bring our best and brightest home to serve and develop this nation. —

  1. #1 by boh-liao on Sunday, 13 May 2012 - 8:07 pm

    Correct! Who wants 2 work in a nation dat values UmnoB Malays first?
    Some more in a nation dat has a weak currency n a generally low pay structure
    Of cos, if U r a UmnoB Malay or a BN nonMalay who can get hold of a big fat-paying no-brain job + corruption $$, then U would stay on

  2. #2 by Winston on Sunday, 13 May 2012 - 8:26 pm

    More often than not, they hire Bumiputeras — often neglecting more qualified non-Bumis. – End of quote

    Cass, I think that you are still quite naive.
    Firstly, to the government, what they want are brainless morons who can be easily manipulated by them.
    These workers are there to ensure that they will vote for their employer (government) in every election!
    Their work is not important but their votes are!
    Now, who would want a smart guy who knows what’s what and is determined to dump his employer at the election?
    Safeguarding their boss’s gravy train is of utmost importance, not service to the nation!
    Did you notice that this nation has been left to drift pilot-less for decades?
    Nobody in the Federal Government cares about anything except the gravy train.
    And there are plenty of indications that, in the current situation, where the electorate, especially the Malays, have woken, the government is getting more and more desperate and its deeds bear that out!!!!

  3. #3 by yhsiew on Sunday, 13 May 2012 - 9:03 pm

    ///I also personally know of a highly talented Malaysian who was denied the top post of a government agency simply because of his skin colour.///

    Why must talented Malaysians working overseas come back to “apartheid Malaysia”? Don’t blame them.

  4. #4 by Taxidriver on Sunday, 13 May 2012 - 11:21 pm

    Educated people no good. They won’t listen to UNMO lies. Those semi- illiterate people are easier to lead; give them RM 200 and will do what UNMO ask them to.

  5. #5 by boh-liao on Monday, 14 May 2012 - 12:32 am

    YES, UmnoB/BN also NO WANT smart, talented M’sians back here, kacau only, like organising BERSIH dis n dat, n exposing corrupt, self-enriching practices of UmnoB/BN

  6. #6 by sheriff singh on Monday, 14 May 2012 - 2:30 am

    ‘I also personally know of a highly talented Malaysian who was denied the top post of a government agency simply because of his skin colour.’

    I bet every non-Bumiputra has a similar story to tell too.

    In a particular training course (OBS Lumut), (and in many other training courses as well), they say we must all take care of each other and we must be able to work as a team. So we put the weakest and slowest person in front to lead and the rest follow him. This way, every one survives, the team survives.

    It is now the current practice everywhere in this country. The weakest link / person leads. So why complain? It is a fact of our life now.

  7. #7 by monsterball on Monday, 14 May 2012 - 2:44 am

    Long time did not see Cintanegara comments.
    Maybe busy as a farmer now…planning ahead of others …as to …not to depend on handouts and Najib.

  8. #8 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Monday, 14 May 2012 - 9:11 am

    Oh boy. Tell us something new cass shan! Tell you wot. How best to send our talents away? Vote umno of course. How best to send our talents away? Continue to rely on our omni-able umno expert tun tan seri dato seri dato datuk dr prof ameritus apapunboleh. How to send our talents away? Through the causeway to singapore you idiot. Obvious, isnt it? How to send our talent away?

  9. #9 by Apa on Monday, 14 May 2012 - 11:59 am

    Yes me too had a similar story to tell.
    My daughter got 11A1 in 2005 and was denied any scholarships she applied. I spend close to Rm500,000 for her studies in USA. She will be going to MIT for her Phd this Oct. Full scholarship wigh alloawances of US27,000.00 per year and free medical insurance and a Lap top to use.

  10. #10 by sotong on Monday, 14 May 2012 - 12:53 pm

    They can’t provide the opportunity you seek……easier for them to satisfy unskilled foreign workers with low wages who do not complain.

  11. #11 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Monday, 14 May 2012 - 2:57 pm

    Oh yeah. We are non-bumis. Hence we cant expect much from the racist umno gobermen. And we ended up working harder and succeeding elsewhere. We had to broaden our horizon by looking beyond our own shores. It was never a good feeling to leave our family, home and friends to work elsewhere. But that was life – the choice that was forced upon many amongst us.

    However, no one foresaw the full effect of globalisation – contributed largely by the world wide web and availability of cheap air travel. Today, travelling half a globe away to work to many is like travelling to work in kl from seremban. And this of course triggered a mass outflow of people from the country. It is a rather a natural consequence that flowed from the second class citizen treatment we received. So in a way, it can be expected.

    What really was unexpected, I reckon, is the second class citizen treatment given to ordinary malays and intellectual malays. They are never as fortunate as the elite umnoputras. The later is supreme to everyone else including the ordinary malays (capable or not). They have become a race – a new race in the country with a new religion know as islam jenis-umno (islam ju). This is really sad. And increasingly we are also seeing capable malays leaving the country under compulsion.

    And umno’s reaction to all these? Rejoice!

  12. #12 by on cheng on Monday, 14 May 2012 - 3:19 pm

    Perhaps, the common Bumi will wake up only after Malaysia oil depleted, then BN will surely blame Pakatan and all those non bumi who migrated oversea for all the bad things in Malaysia!

  13. #13 by on cheng on Monday, 14 May 2012 - 3:24 pm

    Article not clear on condo money!
    It take 90 months, 90 X 500 = 45,000 for the 10% down payment only !, even if one can save RM1,000 per months, say no interest, it would take 450 months or 37.5 years to pay !

  14. #14 by Taikohtai on Monday, 14 May 2012 - 3:42 pm

    The big picture is that BN politics is all about enriching themselves. All others are expendable and are mere pawns. Its no point talking about individual policies to pander to one’s own agenda.
    Get the big picture right and it becomes easier to make one’s own decisions with regards to voting, emigrating or staying, employment, etc.

  15. #15 by rockdaboat on Monday, 14 May 2012 - 10:08 pm

    Malaysia is a country famous for sending away its own talents in exchange for Bangla and Indonesian labourers!

  16. #16 by waterfrontcoolie on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 - 12:20 am

    This will be a never ending story of this country. Talents moving away because of their ability being appreciated should make the nation proud if we can’t use them; but to deliberately deprive the nation of its talents will guarantee our positon among the bottom 25% of the world standing.; very soon when our Petronas stops oozing. Even in the civil service, practically all of them are overseas trained and yet they look so pitiful when confronted to resolve even simple issues! They are totally lost! Of course, most of them will be ‘pushed up’ depending on their family’s connection even among the Bumis! Working outside the country is tough even if you are among the high fliers; as you have to compete in an open market while being left alone especially after long and tedious hours; but being treated purely on your own merit itself usually drives away all the loneliness even for those who started directly after graduating! In fact, it is even Okay to come back with your cash and enjoy retirement at 50!

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