A better place for their children, not Malaysia

By Melissa Chi, The Malaysian Insider

First-class education system, a corruption-free government, zero tolerance on racism and the basic skill to communicate properly are all on one Malaysian’s mind when he chooses to work in Australia.

Anthony Leong, 30, an application support programmer, said he is considering giving up his Malaysian citizenship and live in Australia permanently, for the sake of his future family.

He said he had become frustrated at the corrupted system, the quality of local university graduates and the red tape he had to go through to apply for welfare support for his 70-year-old disabled aunt, among other things.

He is now a permanent resident in Australia, working for the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, and is considering applying to be an Australian citizen once he has convinced his father and sister to move with him.

Low purchasing power, racism, political instability, low income, race-based policies, crime rates and non-dual citizenship laws are seen as some of the reasons that have kept a lot of Malaysian talents anywhere but here, 300,000 annually to be exact.

Another Malaysian who had also chosen to be Down Under felt unappreciated in Malaysia.

“I am a Malaysian who loves my country but I do not feel loved. Why then should I stay?” Wesley Wong, 25, a software developer in Australia, told The Malaysian Insider.

His deep sense of frustration was echoed by many who are working abroad.

“The country should learn that all Malaysians love their country. Any Malaysian who does not feel appreciated in their own country will definitely find elsewhere to go because they realise that their future is bleak,” he said in an e-mail interview.

Leigh Howard, South Asia director for Talent2 International Limited, told The Malaysian Insider that approximately 300,000 Malaysians leave the country for better education, work and business prospects, quoting figures released by the government.

“That would compare with a figure of 80,000 for a country such as Australia which has a similar size population and workforce,” he said.

He added that Malaysia is lacking talents in the services sector, technology, banking, as well as in oil and gas.

Brian Fernandez, 40, a headhunter for senior and middle management positions for the last decade at Talent Search International, said those talents are lost to Singapore, all over Europe and the Middle East.

“Setting up Talent Corp is a nice blah blah but it’s not real,” he said, dismissing the initiative launched yesterday.

The prime minister announced at its launch yesterday that foreigners and Malaysians living abroad can soon apply for a new resident pass that will allow them to live and work in Malaysia for up to 10 years at a time.

Although he had earlier said that Talent Corporation, which was established under the Prime Minister’s Department, will spearhead initiatives to attract the estimated 700,000 skilled Malaysians currently working abroad, the prime minister did not mention the ambitious figure at the launch.

Instead, Najib announced a new policy to retain and attract talent to Malaysia.

He said the resident pass will be made available to highly-skilled expatriates seeking to continue working and living in Malaysia as well as Malaysians residing overseas.

Unlike an employment pass, he said the resident pass has the advantage of not being tied to an employer and it can be issued for a longer period.

Najib, also the finance minister, said the pass will also be available to those originally from Malaysia as well as their offspring who no longer hold Malaysian citizenship.

Following the announcements, however, he did not specify how the new body will reach out to those “highly-skilled talents”.

Fernandez was sceptical about how the new initiative will pan out, even before the launch yesterday.

“Malaysia is very good with plans, but when it comes to execution, it’s a different story,” he said.