Malaysia, thumb drives and brain drain


In the fifities when I was born and in the sixties when i was a teenager studying in high school, Taiwan was a poor, underdeveloped country ruled by generals who lost the war in Mainland China and fled to this island in the late 40s.

In 1980, as a youn men, I went to Taiwan for a tour with my wife. It was then considered a developing country, with not much of industry and natural resources, but with many universities that churned out world class students.

Because it has very little natural resources, and much of its money were tied down in maintaining a huge army (relative to its size and population), the people were still very poor. An average Taiwanese family was poorer than their counterparts in Malaysia and percapita income was way behind Malaysia despite the fact that it had almost the same population in a country much smaller than us.

Many Malaysians, especially those educated in the CHinese Medium , went to Taiwan to study even in those days. I was impressed by the highly educated work force, and the worldly knowledge of the people. I mentioned to my wife then that it would be a matter of time they would overtake us, since they had very good universities and a very hardworking work force. Everyone there seemed to study so hard in order to be able to get scholarships to go over to the States.

Yesterday, I read an article that Acer is set to overtake Dell to be the second biggest producers of personal computers. For those who have not heard of Acer ( not many I suspect),  Acer is a Taiwanese company which has grown to be a big  multinationals.

Taiwan is also listed to be one of the riches countries now, while we are ranked around 60.

I can’t help but ponder ” what went wrong”?