Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stemming the Malaysian exodus

Taken from the blog of Malaysian veteran politician, YB Lim Kit Siang, an article written by a Douglas Tan from The Malaysian Insider.

Many Singaporeans, especially the Gen Y are grumbling about living in Singapore, the high cost, lack of freedom, among others but alot more Malaysians are eager to seek lives outside, read on.

— Douglas Tan
The Malaysian Insider
Oct 12, 2011

OCT 12 — Recently, YB Teresa Kok asked me, “Why are Malaysians so keen to leave this country? Life overseas is not necessarily easier!” I agree that life overseas is not necessarily so. In fact, my cousins living in Hong Kong, Singapore and London tell me regularly that they miss the food and that everything is much cheaper at home (except cars). They complain about the weather, high cost of living and their long working hours. Despite this, when the possibility of coming back home is raised, they give me a smile and a shake of their head.

Is living in Malaysia really so bad? What is it that other countries have that we don’t? YB Lim Kit Siang posted on his blog in December 2009 that more than 630 Malaysians migrate overseas everyday, and that number is increasing year on year.

This is a worrying statistic and the brain drain issue is one that the current government acknowledges is a problem. However, the best they can come up with to make Malaysians come back are tax breaks, and tax-free vehicles. From day one, it has become apparent these ‘perks’ would simply not work.

This government has a habit of tackling problems by providing quick fixes. The 2012 Budget should really be called the ‘quick-fix’ budget as RM232 billion is mindlessly spent, with unrealistic economic growth forecasts to back it up.

Yes, 60 per cent of households would receive a RM500 relief and we thank the government for it. What then? RM500 does not combat rising costs, or inflation. How far can RM500 bring us nowadays? Not very far. In no time at all, that RM500 has become a distant memory and we are back to square one.

The Kedai 1 Malaysia initiative was put in place by the government to sell cheap products subsidised by the government, and more are to be opened across the nation. Shop owners are now screaming in displeasure as they cannot possibly compete. If the government is intent on handing out subsidies, subsidise the shops which are already operating! Another poorly planned quick fix that provides no long-term solution.

Where is the long-term economic plan? Where is the investment in our children’s future? Fixing school buildings is an excellent initiative, but the real problem lies in the fabric of the education system.

Our children are taught to be robots, to regurgitate material and not to question their teachers. Many scoff at the lowering of standards in the ongoing PMR exams, and an Additional Mathematics SPM paper was allegedly leaked to tuition centres. Is all this in the name of grades, just to make the Education Ministry look good? How can this system prepare our children to be competent, effective members of society? The biggest losers in all of this are our nation’s children.

A friend over dinner told me earnestly that he was preparing to leave the country for the sake of his children. As disheartening as it was to hear, he proceeded to tell me why.

His vision for his children was for them to grow up in a society in which they would not be discriminated against. Although racism is also prevalent in other countries, in Malaysia, racism is institutionalised and sanctioned by the Barisan Nasional government.

Furthermore, corruption is rampant throughout all levels of government. The payment of corruption money in cases of obtaining building or business licenses is so prevalent, that many businesses have included such a payment in their expense budgets. How can this continue be the case?

These issues are all correlated, and opportunities continue to be stifled. Talented people leave because Malaysia appears to have no appreciation for their abilities. Nepotism and favouritism are practised on the basis of the “Lu tolong gua, Gua tolong lu” principle rather than getting the best person for the job.

Our English standards have been lowered in order to record more exam passes, but quality is sacrificed as a result. If even masters degree holders from local universities are unable to speak proper English, how can we then become a globally competitive nation?

After this Budget, more and more people are convinced that this BN government cares only about staying in power and not for the long-term development of the nation. The exodus of talented individuals will continue unless necessary reforms are put in place.

On a recent trip to the United States, on our stopover in Hong Kong, a fellow passenger remarked that they could finally talk about issues of Malaysia as they dared not voice out their displeasures at home. Recalling so many holding up their fingers to their lips to shush their friends from bringing up national issues, it is obvious that many feel we are living under oppression.

Finally, one of my old schoolmates residing in Australia told me that he wanted to come home to take care of his parents. “But the biggest thing stopping me from coming home now is the government”. A change in government may not automatically bring Malaysians home, but what it would do is provide hope for the future of our nation, and hope for our future generations.

Change is needed, and change has to happen now.

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