The grass is not so green anymore

By Romerz

Many talented Malaysians, especially of the baby boomer age group are now facing hard choices of staying in a country which does not appreciate them and leaving for greener grass overseas. Most of these people would be in their forties, fifties and sixties and would have accumulated some wealth and would be the most productive and experienced people that Malaysia has. It could be said that the "prosperity" Malaysia enjoys today were on their backs and sweat!

After taking it easy and kicking back for these past few days, it's time to return to "work" and put the "shoulder to the grinding stone" to bring change to our beloved country by the way I know best, by talking about all that ills us and to bring awareness to other fellow Malaysians that it is time for us to act.

(Image from Star Biz)

On 18 September 2009, Star Biz reported that for the third year running, Malaysia saw investment outflows outstripping investment inflows. According to the report, Malaysians invested US$14.05 billion abroad last year, almost double the US$8.05 billion inward foreign direct investment (FDI).

Read the Star Biz report HERE.

In short, Malaysia's FDI outflows have been increasing steadily since 2005 reflecting an increase of 373%! Simultaneously, Malaysia's FDI inflows saw a decrease of 4% over the previous year.

There are a myriad of reasons why the trend is as it is but National Economic Action Council member, Dr Zainal Aznam Yusof would like to "spin" this increase of FDI outflows as something "not negative".

He had said that a large part of the outflows was driven by corporate and government-linked companies (GLC) like Sime Darby Bhd, Petronas, CIMB and Maybank. He could be partially right on this as he would have better data than I have but I believe there is more to it than meets the eye here and would like to offer another contributing factor to this increase in FDI outflows based on my personal experiences and observations.

I think whilst it is true that GLCs have been investing overseas, so have a lot of rich and also not so rich Malaysians been investing overseas as well. Here are a few examples I know of personally.

(Image from

My own sister migrated a few years back with her family to Australia because her children were reaching university age and decided that it would be more economical for her if she uprooted her family there. Her original intention was to return to Malaysia after her children had graduated and could stand on their own feet. After a few years there, my sister has found life there so much better than in Malaysia with regards equal opportunities and fair treatment that she has now decided not to return but instead applied for Australian citizenship.

With her, Malaysia will lose two qualified citizens with degrees from prestigious foreign universities, not to mention an additional three when her children graduates and her money which she shifted from Malaysia to Australia!

I have another friend whose daughter recently enrolled in a university in Melbourne. My friend who is a senior partner in a multinational organization, bought a AUS$900,000/- apartment in Melbourne for his daughter to stay in and as an investment overseas. Assuming that when his daughter graduates and he realizes a profit on his property investment, do you think he will be repatriating his investment and gains back to Malaysia?

I have another friend who is the CEO of a multinational manufacturing company in Penang. Whilst his children are not yet at university age, he has started the ball rolling on applying for PR to USA. Imagine that when he leaves, he will be taking a couple of million ringgit with him not counting his qualifications and experience!

Another example is a friend whom I have lunch with regularly. He is father to a child who scored 170 on the Ravens Advanced Progressive Matrices Scale conducted by MENSA putting the child in the top one percentile in Malaysia. How do I know? I sat for the same test and I scored 148 which barely put me in the two percentile range but qualified me for membership to MENSA as well.

Not only that, my friend is a PhD holder involved with local education. He has recently told me that he is looking to move his entire family to Canada so that his children's talent can be further nurtured with education that recognizes and treasures their abilities.

Do you need more examples? I think not as I'm sure you get the picture and I'm sure you have heard far more similar stories closer to yourselves!

Read more at: The grass is not so green anymore.