Singapore tops immigration poll as Malaysia lags behind

By Yow Hong Chieh, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 — Singapore continues to be far more successful than Malaysia at attracting human capital, according to a recent Gallup survey on popular immigration destinations which the island republic topped and Malaysia missing the top 20 cut.

The city-state, with an impressive 18.1 per cent GDP growth in the first half of the year, would have tripled its population if everyone eyeing Singapore were allowed in, the poll released last Friday showed.

In that scenario the nation of 4.8 million would have spiked up to 15 million, a whopping 219 per cent increase.

On the other hand, Malaysia, with its relatively lacklustre economy and increasingly divided society, ended up only in the top 25 most popular destinations for migrants.

The poll found that if everyone were allowed to leave and enter as they pleased, Malaysia’s population would increase by 23 per cent to over 34 million, making it the 21st most popular immigration hotspot in the world.

Gallup researchers interviewed nearly 350,000 adults in 148 countries between 2007 and this year to calculate each country’s Potential Net Migration Index (PNMI).

The PNMI is the estimated number of adults who wish to permanently leave a country subtracted from the estimated number who wish to immigrate there, as a proportion of the total adult population.

Malaysia was the fourth most popular Asia-Pacific destination after Singapore, New Zealand and Australia, and the second-most popular in Southeast Asia following Singapore.

Other Southeast Asian countries fared comparatively worse. While Thailand would see a minimal drop of 1 per cent in its population, Indonesia would lose up to 5 per cent of its 230 million population if everyone who wanted to come in or leave could do so. This was followed by Laos (-9 per cent), Vietnam (-21 per cent), Philippines (-22 per cent).

And despite making great strides in economic growth, Asian giants China and India would both lose 6 per cent of their over 1 billion population if people were allowed to move freely.

Overall, the second-most popular destination was New Zealand, whose population of 4 million would rise by 184 per cent. Third was Saudi Arabia, whose population of 26 million would soar by 176 per cent.