Saturday, November 06, 2010

Studying the brain drain

With the announcement of a Talent Corporation to bring home Malaysians who've gone overseas, this research — Plugging the Brain Drain — seems relevant. The findings are quite accessible to the layperson, but if you have a little statistical background, you'll definitely get a chance to grapple with some of the most extensive publicly-available analysis of our brain drain (that I know of, at any rate).

It has its flaws, especially with regard to data collection (full disclosure: Kian Ming and I helped the author with some of the statistical analysis), but it is of course only an initial foray into studying the reasons behind why Malaysians leave — or come home. If you have any comments, do post them here or contact the author, Evelyn Wong, directly. Also do share if you know of any similar studies, or scholars working on this topic!


clk said...

is the effort to plug the brain drain ever sincere is the question always on one's mine. action does not seem to suggest so. maybe the effort should be to plug the leaking drain i.e. to encourage people who are already at home to stay, rather than to bring those from overseas home for a start. actions must be made to improve the situation from education opportunities, business opportunities, licensing, crony capitalism and the whole works will need to improve/ go.

if those who are already at home stay and the drain stops leaking, then maybe (a big maybe) those from abroad may then return.

until and unless that happens, one can forget about about the potential returnees. life is not as great overseas compared to back home, but life can improve significantly back home before one consider returning.

Camellia sinensis said...

It's not easy living abroad. I could've stayed at home and saved on rent and bills. But if I had to do it again I would.

Economically and politically, it's better for me abroad, as a Chinese Malaysian....there isn't much future for me in Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

Agree with clk that life back here is okay but could be better. The brain drain topic comes round when elections are coming and justifications on both sides of the spectrum are brought to the fore. No matter how bad or how good things are there will always be a migration of peoples in and out of any nation. It is like saying why are some people born more equal than others. The story will never end and utopia is only in our imagination. Of course, we strive towards some sort of paradise but then again conditions change and the only thing that stays the same is change itself.

mark said...

Some students prefer to continue their education in another country for different reasons.

Maria Ednar Andrade said...

The "brain drain" of Malaysia is of course that passes by some factors to consider: a) better pay abroad, b) more material conditions of career development that follows, c) more able to climb the career ladder, among other reasons. Thus, the return to Malaysia to employ their knowledge in the country is on an individual level, nor can the state intervene in the personal decision of each student.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GoingNut said...

You guys out there, do not be deceived easily by UMNO. The brain-gain project is only a sandiwara for the coming GE13. Ihink wisely, if the basic discriminative policies that favor one ethnic majorty are not appended to reflect equal opportunites and flat playing fields for all races, how could you succeed in plugging brain-drain?

Anonymous said...

i am studying in the States right now. going back to malaysia doesnt seem to be a very appealing option. no1 reason is that to be at the forefront of my field, i wld have to stay here or go somewhere in europe. there is nothing back in malaysia. there is no state of the art research facilities in the local universities. and our army, i highly doubt they hav the capability of running high profile R&D if compared to the USA's.
and to those who want to "make a diff", thats too idealistic. no doubt they are many ppl of high calibre and great potential but with such an oppressive gov that consists of mostly uneducated ppl, we need a miracle.
of coz there is this conscience of mine that tells me not to bail on a place i grew up, but what can we do. seriously, what can we do? form a new political movement? rebel?
the only thing sensible is to help those who are eager to help themselves, i.e. get them out of m'sia so that they can contribute to the world and not to a sinking ship.

Anonymous said...

Would you rather the present and future Malays to be "dikapitalist and dikorporatkan"
or be "diislam and diiterroristkan"?

The former is a better choice!!

Unknown said...

GoingNut: what a silly thing to say. why wouldn't you take the chance when it had been laid in front of you? Something that is not good for you may actually bring more gain than you can ever imagine. With the current 1Malaysia campaign, it will be a big mistake if the policies do not follow it. This is after all a multiracial country. Anyways, how much more can the other countries offer? Most international workers have certain type of taxes to be paid.

The brain-drain should really be plugged and i totally agree with clk. Improve what is in the country from the very roots of the problem and not superficially.

I call for all Malaysians to come back and make some changes. If you want a change. Be the change.

Anonymous said...

A few days ago, people talk about the brain drain of Malaysian top students to Singapore, But why look so far south to see instances of the brain drain? In our own backyard is a pool of more than 200,000 bankrupts who have been treated worse than criminals. Granted some of these bankrupts are hopeless cases but there are also thousands of them who could succeed as businessmen or good employees if given a second chance. Barisan doesn't seem to understand that "failure is the first step to success" and during the past few decades it has done nothing to revamp the Bankruptcy Act which is so out of touch with reality.

In the UK and Australia, bankrupts are automatically discharged after a certain period and they can rejoin society as useful citizens, thus minimizing a wastage of human resource.

If I were in Pakatan Rakyat I'd look into this problem of "internal brain drain" and see how it can abolish the existing Bankruptcy Act and replace it with more dynamic and effective laws. Go to the bankrupts, seek their views.

Anonymous said...

Life has never been easy for us no matter abroad or back home. Life has been easier abroad than back home although people see the colour in me, but they respect me on my capabilities. That's the thing i am seeking for which my home sweet home can't provide.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting story for all knowledgeable : How is that possible ?

I am 44 years old man and was sodomised repeatedly, raped, molested, tortured by BN government people and was abused uncountable incidences. They put me in debt until I couldn`t afford to make so many seperate payment and they even masterfully put me out of jobs. BN governed people can utilised big banks loans to make a very big business and became rich and powerful as today mass production can canvass Malaysian. The Indians are no better in Malaysia due to these blacks people are loyal to their family employer and I think moustache play an important rule in how the people life influenced. There are certain type of Hindus teaching and have no respect to people without moustache even tho moustache have no judgemental value when who evolve to a better world.


I think ethnic cleansing in Malaysia is possible due to very decent people and the Indians looks almost identical and Malaysia have first world facilities and tactics. The Malays even threatened to make me as a stateless man if I don't be a military Islam. The entrepreneur Chinese Malaysian r no better off in line with their suggestion due to the stories of Old Mac Donald have a farm etc etc not their flesh in pain and so on.

Anonymous said...

The Star Online > Nation
Friday March 4, 2011

Erase race category, say many


PETALING JAYA: The call to remove the ethnicity (“race”) category from forms has received support but most said it has to be carried out gradually.

Many quarters said the matter should be looked at realistically and some questioned how any review should be done.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan lauded the call, saying it was in the right direction towards achieving the 1Malaysia vision.

He said a gradual review was needed because change was never easy to implement.

“It needs to be done gradually so people have time to get used to it,” he said, adding that it was natural for people to initially have different or opposing views.

“We are living in one nation. So long as we are divided along racial line, we will not fully achieve the 1Malaysia aspiration.”

Yayasan 1Malaysia on Wednesday had called for the removal of the ethnicity (“race”) category on some forms issued by the public and private sectors.

Board of trustees member Datuk Dr Ismail Ibrahim said the foundation’s call to remove the category should not be politicised.

“We want to aim for people to focus more on being Malaysian and less on ethnicity.

“Hopefully, they will realise this is a way to unite the nation,” he said.

He said it was all right for certain forms to retain the race category such as in the education field.

“If there is a quota system in place for universities then it is fine as the Government will need to know how many students from each race get a place,” he said.

Another board of trustees member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said a gradual review was needed by various agencies, authorities and departments to determine whether it was necessary for them to insist on having the category.

Lee said the existence of the race category was a continuous reminder for Malaysians to identify with their own race instead of nationality.

MCA vice-president Senator Gan Ping Sieu said the category should be gradually abolished.

Gan reasoned that since Malaysian passports did not state one’s race, the requirement should be done away with for other official documents.

He added that birth certificates could keep the field for race as it was for national statistics re- cords.

Kita president Datuk Zaid Ibrahim commended Yayasan 1Malaysia’s call but said it would just remain a “good idea” as long as the current quota and entitlement systems based on race were still in place.

Suaram chairman K. Arumugam said it needed to go with constitutional amendments.

© 1995-2011 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

Nick Poh said...

Hi Tony,

This research is fairly recent 2 April 2011. Not as much statistics but I think it could be a reference point.

Donald said...

the blog title sounds cool. It relates my studying habit. Because when I study, I drain my brain. And when my brain is full, it drains. All I learned are gone.

faheem said...

Yes brain drain is a problem in most of the developing countries.

Anonymous said...

cause and effect. keeping the public and citizen in the dark may keep a lid on the problem. those who see the light, doubtfully will come back. take a simple example, korea. same kind of people, two different policy. would a north korean want to go back to the north after seeing the south? would any malaysian come back if they saw what is offered in the world. Our govrnment is sooo narrow minded and backward in thinking. Why fight the flow? malaysia should be in the forefront and open up. Attract great minds to come invest. if the govrnment continues to put a lid on the people and "melay" first. good luck i say... i dont see any changes in both economy and education, opporunity and grow in my life time. stop mixing politic - race and religion.

there is no need to look very far.. malaysia's lost.. Singapore's gain. At lease singapore is more open and fare. All the people are asking is a FAIR GO, nothing more.. nothing less.

enitre education said...

nice information about brain drain , i have read it and learnt many new thing

regards saad from

entire education

Jee Suk Ko said...

Ooops Sorry Singapore "Might" be open, but Fair is QUESTIONABLE, Look at the number of Melays sponsored by, less than 1%, (Err how many-lah sponsored by JPA-Malaysia?) Knows of cases of Melays of Singapore , Cream of Cream, at the VERY top of the whole Edu system, yet unable to enter ANY .Sg Uni, so another case of Brain Drain for .sg, is NOT so grand that a large number of their Elite Citizens had to be in the "Drain". So fine are their Meritocracy Std, which could we emulate? Highly questionable. No matter whatever policy made by any government in the 2/3rd world WILL be question, and DEFINITELY does not satisfy everyone. We do not build a "Berlin" wall to fix "our" citizens in but encourages Global Democratization for our citizens. Those who wants to emigrate "fully", please do & don't come back, hope U can handle the challenges/ obstacles over there.
The 2nd issue is race. Go back to basic, WHY do we have Chinese/Tamil schools? Why identify with race, If it is possible, why not just 1Malaysia schools NOT identified by RACE ? All budget considerations admin by MOE! (Not just National Schools), fairly for ALL schools.

MBA in real estate said...

Wonderful information..One must read this for sure..

Unknown said...

studding the brain of human is most difficult task of the world but your university is doing well giving the education at the level of mind reading....

Anonymous said...

I had to leave Malaysia because of educational discrimination by race. I am now a college professor in the U.S. Why should I go back to Malaysia for the following:
1. I can buy left-over houses after the bumis have made their first picks.
2. My mortgage has higher interest rates because of my race.
3. My savings have lower rates because of my race.
4. My children would have no equal treatment in education, government jobs, economic activities, etc.

I have actually encouraged other Malaysians to leave because they have no future there - because of their race.