Deputy Foreign Minister Kohilan Pillay had told the parliament that 304,358 Malaysians were reported to have migrated from March 2008 to August 2009.
Kohilan clarified that the number of “Malaysians who migrated” consists of those who are working abroad and registered with the respective Malaysian embassies.
There was nevertheless a sharp rise in the number of Malaysians who registered themselves as having moved abroad with 210,000 of them doing so from January to August this year compared with 94,000 from March to December 2008.
He also said that between 45 to 55 per cent, or roughly half, of the Malaysians working abroad are professionals.
The most common reasons given for migration were better education, brighter career or business prospects and marriage.
Kohilan also pointed out that the government is taking some steps to attract talent to the country, including making it easier for foreigners with desired expertise to obtain permanent residence.
Kohilan, who is from Gerakan, also criticised the Penang state government currently under Pakatan Rakyat, saying that they should stop using the shortage of engineers an excuse for the recent loss of an RM10 billion electronic factory investment and should instead find ways to overcome it.
“Penang should not blame others if there is no investment,” Kohilan said. “What professionals would want to stay there if there is only push factors? There must also be pull factors. They must think wisely and make sure the state also has pull factors.”
Precisely, with a deputy minister like Kohilan we are doubting if the government is serious to reverse the brain drain.
Making it easier for foreigners with the right skills to obtain PR is no big deal. Ironically, many Indonesians with the "desired expertise" were given PR status many year ago. Why didn't Malaysia move up the economic value chain?
Kohilan has the knack to criticize the Penang state government for not being able to guarantee 1,000 electrical engineers but said nothing about the federal government's role in pushing away more than 300k highly skilled Malaysians with its racist policies, tolerance of corrupt practices, incompetency and inefficiency.
In turn, the Penang state government should blame the federal government and the previous BN state government for pushing away all its engineering and IT talents. Brain drain does not happen over night.
If Gerakan did not lose big in the 2008 general election, a politician such as Kohilan would not have being made a deputy minister and a senator. The party was reluctant to put an Indian candidate even in its presumably safest seats. This is what we called racism.
Malaysia must lose such mentality if it wants to keep more Malaysians from leaving.