Press Statement By DAP Secretary-General And MP For Bagan Lim Guan Eng In Kuala Lumpur On 13.4.2011.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak should extend the benefit of income tax rate of 15% for five years under the Returning Experts Programme (REP), not just to experienced professional Malaysians working overseas, but also to those working here in locally. By only limiting this 15% flat income tax to professionals overseas is highly discriminatory to those Malaysians working here.
Whilst tax is an important factor, a lower tax rate alone is not a sufficient inducement when there are other important considerations such as pay, quality of life, promotion prospects, racial quotas and discrimination. Since Merdeka, an estimated 2 million Malaysians, mostly highly skilled talents, have migrated and left Malaysia.
Giving only those Malaysian professionals working overseas the 15% flat tax income tax benefit, may encourage many professionals working in Malaysia to leave. Isn’t it better to work overseas since the Malaysian government would treat you better than when you are working in Malaysia. One can then return back to enjoy the 15% income tax benefit.
Worse, is that many Malaysian scientists stay back and work upon graduation. At least 30,000 of these Malaysian scientists, who have completed their studies overseas, are working in the Western countries lured by higher pay and opportunities to further their researches
Since 2001, the country has only attracted some 300 Malaysian experts living abroad to return home with the majority being medical and financial specialists, scientists and those involved in the information technology sector, according to the Ministry of Human Resources.
The shortage of scientists in Malaysia is so acute that Malaysia has only 1,500 scientists and researchers for every one million people compared with over 10,000 scientists and researchers for one million population in the developed countries. So far the Federal government’s efforts to attract back Malaysians working overseas have failed miserably.
The “brain gain” scheme in 1995 that set a target of attracting 5,000 talents was a complete failure. In 2004, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, Datuk Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis in a parliamentary reply stated that the scheme attracted 94 scientists (24 Malaysians) in pharmacology, medicine, semi-conductor technology and engineering from abroad between 1995 and 2000. By 2004 only one remained.
Amongst the many reasons given for many experts and professionals to leave is the lack of career advancement and the unhealthy climate of racial discrimination and quotas. No professional would want to bring up his children is this type of environment which does not offer them equal opportunities and reward