by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, June 8, 1993:
Government’s acceptance of DAP proposal for a reverse braindrain’ policy to encourage return of Malaysian professionals overseas to serve in Malaysia’s reconstruction most welcome and should be implemented without any further delay
The announcement by the Minister for Science, Technology and Environment, Datuk Law Hieng Ding, that his Ministry is preparing a scheme to induce Malaysian professionals, in particular scientists, who have emigrated abroad to return to Malaysia to serve in Malaysia’s development and Vision 2020 is most welcome.
DAP had in fact been proposing to the Government to adopt a ‘reverse braindrain’ policy to encourage the return of Malaysian professionals overseas since the 1980s, and I am very glad that the Government has accepted this DAP proposal.
For instance, two months after my release from Kamunting Detention Centre after my 18-month detention under Operation Lalang, in my first speech in the Dewan Rakyat on the Fifth Malaysia Plan mid-term review debate in June 1989, I called for a ‘reverse braindrain policy to attract back to Malaysia the “brains, the creativity, energy and talent of the Malaysian people” which had been driven away to other shores by the New Economic Policy.
I had stressed that we must learn from the secret of the success of Japan and the four ‘little dragons’ – their reliance and use of their human resources, creating public education systems which are intensely competitive and pushing meritocracy to new limits to ensure that the best and brightest are channeled into society’s most productive and important sectors.
I had called on the Government to change its attitude to emigration of Malaysian professionals overseas since the implementation of the New Economic Policy in 1970 of regarding them as “good riddance to bad rubbish”.
I had then pointed out the case of South Korea, which conducted a special campaign to lure back South Korean scientists and engineers who have taken up American citizenship to return to South Korea to contribute to national reconstruction. At that time, the returning South Koreans were estimated to have helped shave up to five years off Korea’s lag behind the United States in semiconductor technology.
The Malaysian Government had wasted five to ten years in implementing the ‘reverse brain-drain’ policy, which can be translated into enormous lost opportunities whether in terms of national development or progress, but it is better late than never.
I call on the Government to implement this ‘reverse brain-drain’ policy without any further delay.
Datuk Law Hieng Ding made his announcement at the World Nantah Alumni Conference in Miri yesterday. It is clear that before the ‘reverse braindrain policy’ could effect Malaysian Nantah graduates all over the world, the Cabinet should officially accord recognition to Nantah degrees as otherwise the ‘reverse braindrain’ policy could have no meaning to Malaysian Nantah graduates – whether inside or outside the country.
The same applies to Taiwan university degrees and qualifications and this is why it is most shocking that up to now, MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers had shown utter indifference and disinterest to the long-standing problem of government recognition of Taiwan and Nantah degrees and qualifications.
The recognition of the Taiwan and Nantah degrees and qualifications should be announced by the Government without any more delay, or the ‘reverse braindrain’ policy is unlikely to be very effective or successful.