From the research and comments we’ve gathered (as well common sense), we can see that overseas Malaysians can be divided into three categories: those who will come back no matter what, those who will not come back no matter what, and those who may or may not come back depending on the conditions at home.
An overwhelming majority belong in the third category. Practical concerns such as job prospects, safety, education and social stability are extremely important to this decision. However, the feelings of alienation and marginalization by many who have left the country also have to be addressed.
Instead of looking at this survey as a collection of complaints of an indictment of everything that’s wrong with Malaysia, look at it as a starting point for new discussions. To have discussions in society to seek solutions to the problems that we all agree need to come to an end. To have discussions that will lead to action, to citizens’ movements organize and demand change, accountability and good stewardship of their country.
On the research end, much more needs to be done to calculate exact numbers of Malaysian emigrants and strategic efforts made to render Malaysia a more attractive country to return to. There is also a dearth of reliable statistics of even the most basic figures such as how many Malaysians live abroad, what ethnicity they are, etc. Systematic data collection will allow policy makers and concerned citizens to create better, focused incentives to bring our talent back. As for making Malaysia a more attractive country to live in, some measures stand out immediately: for example, recognizing foreign pharmacy degrees and changing the mandatory bond for all foreign-trained doctors who return to Malaysia to a case-by-case basis.
Exercising one’s powers as a citizen cannot be overemphasized. In a materialistic world, contributing to civil society is uncommon. However, actions as simple as voting, knowing your rights, staying informed of current events, and bringing up issues to your MP can make a difference.
“But while we think of the past, we look forward in faith and hope to the future; from henceforth we are masters of our destiny, and the welfare of this beloved land is our own responsibility: Let no one think we have reached the end of the road: Independence is indeed a milestone, but it is only the threshold to high endeavour — the creation of a new and sovereign State. At this solemn moment therefore I call upon you all to dedicate yourselves to the service of the new Malaya: to work and strive with hand and brain to create a new nation, inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty — a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world.
High confidence has been reposed in us; let us unitedly face the challenge of the years. And so with remembrance for the past, and with confidence in the future, under the providence of God, we shall succeed.”
– Speech by the Chief Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, at the Proclamation of Independence at Merdeka Stadium, Kuala Lumpur on August 31, 1957.
A hope 53 years ago by the father of Malaysia, to create a new nation inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty, has sadly been put to the wayside. It is up to the brightest talents of Malaysia, both in the country and abroad, and who believe it can still be achieved, to take up that challenge again. Perhaps then we can truly plug the brain drain.