Thursday, August 8, 2013
Senior Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders admitted today that race-based policies had contributed to Malaysia’s brain drain problem, which the country needs to plug if it is to join the ranks of high-income nations by 2020.
They were responding to former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s remarks in his new book that Malaysia’s acute loss of talent was due to Putrajaya’s insistence on promoting “one race” above all others.
MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said that the rise of “Ketuanan Melayu” or Malay supremacy had previously caused local talents to quit the country.
“I will say in the past the issue of Ketuanan Melayu in fact caused some migration of people from the country but we want to emphasise that Malaysia is a multiracial country and we preserve harmony and unity in this country.
“So we don’t want to see any race dominant against other races,” the former health minister told reporters at the prime minister’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house celebration here.
Liow said Malaysia’s plural society is seen to be unique and a role model for other countries to emulate.
“So I think we are not forcing the people to leave the country and our policies will continue to ensure a multiracial society,” he said.
Dr Chua said many factors contributed to the country’s brain drain problem.Dr Chua said many factors contributed to the country’s brain drain problem.Asked about the claim that racial polarisation was caused by the government’s policies, Liow said the MCA was playing a key role within BN to ensure multiracial policies are carried out.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek agreed that race-based policies contributed to the country’s brain drain problem, but pointed out that there were many contributing factors.
Asked about Lee’s comment that brain drain was caused by the promotion of a single race, Dr Chua disagreed, appeared to point at Singapore’s higher wages and better infrastructure as also having lured Malaysians to leave the country.
“I would not totally agree with that. People look for better pay, better infrastructure. In Singapore, you can travel without a car,” the former health minister said, adding that Singapore itself has a brain drain problem.
Kelantan Umno chief Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed appeared to share Dr Chua’s views.
“I admit that some people may have left the country for that reason but to say that’s the sole reason, I think the allegation is unfounded,” the minister of international trade and industry said.
Malaysia faces a severe talent flight issue with an estimated five per cent of skilled locals exiting the country on an annual basis — with most bound south for neighbouring Singapore.
A World Bank report from 2011 concluded that 20 per cent of Malaysian graduates opted to quit the country, again with Singapore cited as the preferred destinations.
Worryingly for Malaysia, the report concluded that these migrants were being replaced by unskilled and uneducated foreigners.
In his new book, “One Man’s View of The World”, Lee had written: “They are prepared to lose that talent in order to maintain the dominance of one race.”
The New Economic Policy and other policies in its vein have been blamed for driving the country’s non-Malays to find an exit, with Singapore being the destination of choice for geographic and cultural reasons.
Lee noted that the percentage of the Chinese and Indian ethnic groups in Malaysia’s population had dwindled since 1970, saying that a 2010 census showed lower figures for both groups.
In the same book, Lee also indicated that Malaysians who are counting on either Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1 Malaysia concept or the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat to usher in a new era for race relations are being unrealistic.
The former Singapore prime minister said the 1 Malaysia slogan had not lived up to the initial excitement it created, adding that the Malay ground had not moved with Najib’s ambitious plans to unite the different races in Malaysia.
Lee suggested that while Najib was ambitious in pushing for racial harmony, “but it appears political realities have conscribed his subsequent actions.”
“It is impossible for him to win votes from the Chinese and Indians without losing votes from his party’s core supporters — the Malays.”
Lee was equally disparaging in his observations of the opposition parties in Malaysia.
“...the chances of it (PR) getting rid of Malay special treatment are next to nothing.
“This is an opportunistic ad-hoc group not held together by even vaguely coherent set of ideas but by a common desire to unseat the government,” he had said.
Lee stepped down as prime minister in 1990, handing power to Goh Chok Tong, but remaining influential as senior minister in Goh’s Cabinet and subsequently as “minister mentor” when Lee Hsien Loong became prime minister in 2004.
The elder Lee resigned from his Cabinet position in 2011 after his long-ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) stumbled to its worst electoral showing since independence in 1965.