It was reported by Bernama in April this year, that our Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak related that "Malaysia needs to put in place a sustainable brain gain programme to attract skilled talents to meet ashortage of about 30,000 to 40,000 researchers, scientists and engineers in 2010."
Were you serious, honourable Deputy Prime Minister?
"While our first obligation must be to nurture and encourage our ownhomegrown talents, we should supplement this pool by attracting talents fromall over the world and ultimately retain these talents to contribute tobuilding an innovative and competitive economy"The question to ask Datuk Seri Najib will be, for the past 8 months, since this speech was given, what are the tangible stuff which the government has done to execute this "brain gain programme"? And if I were to "re-post" this article 12 months on, will anything have changed?
Najib said developed nations like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, the United States and even Singapore were aggressively attracting talented individuals from around the world to meet their own talent deficits. He said these economies were rolling out the red carpet every day for people with specific skills and talents, and giving them plum jobs, tax breaks, venture capital and research funding, permanent resident status and even citizenship as incentives.
I think the government leaders, should, instead of constantly harping on a "brain gain programme", be looking first of all, at plugging the brain drain predicament.
If the government leaders bother listening to the concerned rakyat by simply reading some of the extremely agitated comments (not all of which I agree with personally) on this blog, then you can tell that the brain drain predicament is extremely serious. If the drain is not plugged, not amount of innovative brain gain programmes will succeed in overcoming the problem of shortage of skilled resources.
Kian Ming has written on how "racial discrimination" is a major factor in pushing fellow high calibre Malaysians to take their talents overseas. I have followed up with a more detailed example of Prof Lee Eng Hin. The government leaders of the country must recognise the issue outright, instead of constantly skirting around it. They must outline a short and longer term solution to fix the discrimination issues, instead of pretending its non-existence or its somebody else's problem. Otherwise, no amount of talks on "brain gain programmes" will ever earn any credibility.
Kian Ming and myself are just two of the silly little boys who have studied in the top schools in Singapore and the United Kingdom (Kian Ming is pursuing his PhD in the United States at the moment), who have returned (or will be returning) to our homeland to pursue our career and dreams, despite all of the obvious shortcomings. However, for every one of these silly little boys, there are probably 10 other smart ones (or more) who choose a path to other countries which, to quote Datuk Seri Najib, are "rolling out the red carpet every day" for them.
The very first place to start, to show the commitment of the nations leaders in wanting the best for Malaysia, is to rid of the "discrimination" tag in the universities of Malaysia. On then, can the swirling waters gushing down the sink be plugged, or at the very least, be reduced to a trickle. It's not an easy task, but we all need to take the little baby steps before we can learn to walk and run.