Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Media Statement: Talent Corp needs 300 years to reverse brain drain (EN/CN)

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar should do his mathematics before saying that the Talent Corp Program has been effective in reversing brain drain. In fact, at its current efficiency, it will take at least 300 years to reverse Malaysian brain drain. 

It is impossible for Malaysia to become a high-income nation without good quality of human capital. Malaysia needs talent, but talent seems to be leaving. According to the World Bank Report in 2011, 2 out of 10 tertiary-educated Malaysians opting to leave Malaysia for greener pasture.

In his reply to Liew Chin Tong’s question in the parliament, Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar said that the Talent Corp program has been effective in reversing brain drain and the RM 65 million operating cost since 2011 was worth spent.

We would like to remind Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar that according to the World Bank report brain drain represents one third of the strong one million Malaysian diaspora, i.e there are more than 300,000 Malaysian professionals settled down outside of Malaysia. The Talent Corp program however, has only succeeded in bringing back 680 Malaysians professionals in 2011, 923 in 2012 and 502 up to June this year. Even at 1,000 professionals returning every year, at this ‘reverse’ rate, it will take 300 years for Talent Corp to reverse Malaysia brain drain. This is also the most optimistic estimation based on the assumption that there is no further brain drain.

Malaysia also is not able to attract foreign talents to replace the outflow of Malaysian talents - 60% of immigration into Malaysia had only primary education or less; the number of skilled expatriates also declined by 25% since 2004.

Perhaps Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, as the former CEO of Maybank, can tell us as to what kind of magic mathematics he used to define the effectiveness of Talent Corp in reversing brain drain?

According to the same Word Bank report, the top three drivers for brain drain were career prospects (66%), social justice (60%) and compensation (54%). While brain drain and diaspora reflect the forces of globalization and it is not unique to Malaysia, which is a developing country, to lose talents due to career prospects and compensation, social injustice can and should be addressed to reverse brain drain.

Surveys have shown that Malaysian diaspora have strong sense of attachment to the motherland. Given more inclusive policies and fairer social environment, many talented Malaysians will choose to come home or stay in Malaysia even without the costly Talent Corp Program.

It is time for the Barisan Nasional government to reexamine their brain drain reversal policies on whether they are solving the surface or the root of the brain drain problem. There is a serious need for policy and structural reform to introduce meritocracy back to the Malaysian society, both in education and business world, while not neglecting the population based on needs.

Lastly, we would like to call upon Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar not to follow the footpath of his fellow non-partisan colleague Datuk Paul Low and become yet another apologist for the Barisan Nasional government.

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