By HWN YAUL LEN
Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily
Nothing comes more important than talented brains in the development of a country. Both Hong Kong and Singapore saw this long ago, and have worked very hard to retain their top-calibre talents through attractive policies and rewards.
We are not a very young country to be precise. Having been independent for 55 years now, Malaysia's overall achievements pale in comparison to countries such as Singapore which started later than us. We are way behind in competitiveness, international status and economic strength. Foreign investors will stay away in the absence of talented people.
It could be a little too late if we are trying now to catch up with the Lion City, which was already one of Asia's newly industrialising economies decades ago. If we still take comfort in what we now have, we may soon be overtaken by other emerging economies and surrender our international competitiveness once and for all.
We are not that bad in terms of physical facilities and geographical location. We have been playing second fiddle in economic development because we overlooked the role of our talents in nation-building.
To retain these talents, it is imperative that we put in place some farsighted educational policies with global perspectives, allowing our students to gain access to top quality education at all levels. Education must be hinged on meritocracy, and be able to connect with the world. While lifting the overall education standards, our policies must also be able to groom the specialists required by the nation in every aspect.
In addition, the government must also implement definite and open-minded policies to allow specialists in specific fields to grow their potentials in this country, and make them happy to stay back and make meaningful contributions towards national development.
Over the years Malaysia has been putting a lot of emphasis on infrastructure development, overlooking the importance of manpower training. Although a breakthrough has been seen in our education policies since 1996, giving young people broader access to tertiary education, the quality of education provided has been inconsistent while the education policies lack an affirmative foresight. The government has not been taking a proactive stance in training and recruiting talented people, allowing instead many of our most valued brains to seep out of the country.
While we have longed to retain these talents at home, we have failed to come up with attractive policies to keep them here. The bureaucracy, racist policies, our failure to create a conducive work environment for them to exert their potentials and a host of other factors have kept many of them from returning to Malaysia.
Aggressively beckoning talented people to return to the country, TalentCorp Malaysia recently met Malaysian medical experts in Taiwan in hope of getting them to come back and serve the country. Another mission will soon be launched to lure Malaysian experts in the electronics field in Taiwan.
This proves that independent Chinese secondary school students pursuing their studies in Taiwan because their Unified Exami certificates were not recognised here have actually done brilliantly in their respective professional fields and have now become the targets of TalentCorp.
Among those scoring well in the Unified Exam, many choose to study in neighbouring Singapore, mostly under Singapore government grants, and later work and settle down in the island republic.
It is a passive approach to try to bring back these oversea talents. We should have stopped them from leaving this country in the first place instead of sending them away and now putting in double the effort to try to get them back.