Racial policies enforced Malaysia’s brain drain, admit BN leaders

Ida Lim and Boo Su-Lyn, MM

Senior Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders admitted today that race-based policies had contributed to Malaysia’s brain drain problem, which the country needs to plug if it is to join the ranks of high-income nations by 2020.

They were responding to former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s remarks in his new book that Malaysia’s acute loss of talent was due to Putrajaya’s insistence on promoting “one race” above all others.

MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said that the rise of “Ketuanan Melayu” or Malay supremacy had previously caused local talents to quit the country.

“I will say in the past the issue of Ketuanan Melayu in fact caused some migration of people from the country but we want to emphasise that Malaysia is a multiracial country and we preserve harmony and unity in this country.

“So we don’t want to see any race dominant against other races,” the former health minister told reporters at the prime minister’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house celebration here.

Liow said Malaysia’s plural society is seen to be unique and a role model for other countries to emulate.

“So I think we are not forcing the people to leave the country and our policies will continue to ensure a multiracial society,” he said.

Asked about the claim that racial polarisation was caused by the government’s policies, Liow said the MCA was playing a key role within BN to ensure multiracial policies are carried out.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek agreed that race-based policies contributed to the country’s brain drain problem, but pointed out that there were many contributing factors.

Asked about Lee’s comment that brain drain was caused by the promotion of a single race, Dr Chua disagreed, appeared to point at Singapore’s higher wages and better infrastructure as also having lured Malaysians to leave the country.

“I would not totally agree with that. People look for better pay, better infrastructure. In Singapore, you can travel without a car,” the former health minister said, adding that Singapore itself has a brain drain problem.

Kelantan Umno chief Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed appeared to share Dr Chua’s views.

“I admit that some people may have left the country for that reason but to say that’s the sole reason, I think the allegation is unfounded,” the minister of international trade and industry said.