Focus View
Stemming the brain drain is important, too
FocusM team | 08 Sep 2017 00:30
Since its inception in 2011, Talent Corporation Malaysia (TalentCorp) has approved 4,121 applications from Malaysian professionals under its Returning Expert Programme (REP). Of this, only 2,698 decided to come home.

That’s an average of 450 per annum. It’s not a big figure if you consider that for every Malaysian TalentCorp brings home, another 17 leave the country in search of greener pastures.  
  
Nevertheless, we must commend TalentCorp for its efforts in bringing back Malaysians under its REP. Its most recent success was to get an endocrinology consultant from Britain to return after being away for 39 years.

But why is it that from the 4,121 approved, 1,423 declined to return? Is it because they failed to secure employment of their choice or were bogged down by unnecessary red tape?  
 
With the weak ringgit, it’s not easy to get well-paid Malaysians to return, especially from countries with a stronger currency and higher standards of living. And offering a higher salary and much better perks than Malaysians at home can prove to be counter-productive. 

The average pay of those returning is reportedly RM30,000 per month. The high wages may sideline existing talent in the country and in turn drive them overseas in search of higher salaries. 

Also, there must not be abuse of TalentCorp’s REP. There may be some who have long decided to return to Malaysia anyway but may choose to make that journey through TalentCorp, reaping the benefits under the REP.
   
But the challenge facing TalentCorp is not only to get professionals to return but also to stop talented people from leaving the country. 

Based on official numbers in recent years, the number of Malaysians renouncing their citizenship has averaged 8,000 to 9,000 per annum, equivalent to 0.25% of the population. For the record, this renunciation rate is at par with that of many Asean countries.  

The government must address the reasons for Malaysians leaving the country. Is it due to shortcomings in our education system or the lack of meritocracy? Or is it purely the quest for a higher salary? 

Thus, TalentCorp must engage all stakeholders and resolve the brain drain issue once and for all.