Some newspapers highlighted Talent Corporations’s success in getting 30% of 130 Malaysian specialist doctors in Taiwan to consider and think about coming home in 3 years. How can Talent Corporation regard as a success when not a single specialist doctor in Taiwan has confirmed 100% their return home immediately but are only willing to consider and think about coming home in 3 years time?
Clearly Malaysia’s failure in reversing the brain drain and getting them to come home plays a huge part in Malaysia’s drop in the Global Competitiveness Index 2012-2013 to 25th spot from 21st last year. Malaysia needs to focus on the 3 critical success factors of upgrading technological readiness especially in internet connectivity, improving public safety by containing crime escalation and building human capital formation to arrest the decline in Malaysia’s global competitiveness.
This decline is not simply a failure of the Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak’s Economic Transformation Programme(ETP) but also a failure to recognise that clinging on to failed policies will not provide the solutions to our problems. As Albert Einstein said, “Using old solutions, especially failed ones, to solve new problems is insane”. The time has come to discard failed policies of crony capitalism, Approved Permits for vehicles and subsidies for profit-making companies.
In Jakarta, the City Mayor has just announced free wifi would be available on main roads and highways. As digital intelligence is of critical importance in the internet connected world, providing free wifi in public places would provide a much needed boost. There is no reason why free wifi in public places can not be done throughout Malaysia, if it can be implemented in Penang Or is Malaysia going to be behind not just Jakarta but also Indonesia eventually?
Regarding Malaysia’s technological readiness, the report notes three areas that require improvement, namely: international internet bandwidth in kilobits per second per user (ranked 83rd), broadband internet subscriptions per 100 population (68th) and mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 population (64th). This contributes to the low level of technological readiness despite the country’s focus on promoting the use of ICT.
The common perception of an increase in crime negatively impacted Malaysia’s ranking with a drop in the rankings related to crime such as the business cost of crime and violence; organised crime; and reliability of police services. Clearly the drop in crime index poses many questions about the reliability in the compilation of statistics and that the final determinant of public safety is not determined by statistics but ultimately whether the people feel safe.
Even the Ministry of International Trade and Industry has admitted that negative perceptions about crime has had an adverse impact on investors and international community alike as do not feel safe. The time has come for both the Home Ministry and the police to stop being in denial but focus solely on fighting crime instead of allowing the police to be used as a tool to serve the political interests of BN against the legitimate opposition PR in Malaysia.
Unless Malaysia succeeds in stopping the ruinous exchange of human talent with unskilled foreign workers, Malaysia’s hopes to escape the middle-income trap and join the ranks of high-income economies will remain a pipe dream. Perhaps Malaysia should not just learn from Jakarta, but also China which attracts back its human talent from USA by paying them comparable salary rates, provide housing accomodation and most important of all equal opportunities of career advancement.
With 2 million Malaysian leaving the country since 1957, Talent Corp would not only fail to attract them back but would see more Malaysians leaving unless more incentives can be given. There must be transparency such as open competitive tenders and public declaration of assets that avoid conflict of interest.
Unless the 3 critical success factors are dealt with, especially retaining and attracting new human talent, Malaysia’s hopes of becoming a high-income developed economy by 2020 will remain a pipe-dream that will be recycled every election year.
Lim Guan Eng
— Mandarin Version–