Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We don't need Talent Corporation

I am very sad whenever people talk about the Brain Drain issue. Everyone seems to have an opinion especially senior Government leaders but none were able to point out what I call the immediately executable solution!

To overcome this issue of Brain Drain, we now have a Talent Corporation under the Prime Minister's Department. If I may, I say we don't need this Talent Corporation. What for?

Each year, a scholarship fund which amounts to BILLIONS OF RINGGIT is created to ensure that 2500 of our top students get proper and high quality education.

Out of this figure, approximately 1500 gets to go overseas to universities like Yale, Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, ANU, Melbourne, Osaka and many more. The remaining 1000 students are sent to top local colleges such as Taylor's, INTI, and HELP to pursue a foreign degree locally.

Of course, we have the local public universities JPA scholars also but unfortunately, I don't have any figures for that pool.

These are the top universities in the world whose graduates get employed by Barclays, Mc Kinsey, Macquarie and many more top institutions in the world. I am not making up stories and any senior HR executive can clarify this.

Surely, these graduates mean something. Unfortunately, the Government is not exploiting this pool of talent (JPA sponsored students with contractual bond).

My fellow taxpayers. Let me tell you.
  1. Our money is used to sponsor 2500 students ANNUALLY

  2. Only a handful is called up to serve their contractual bond with the Govt.

  3. The rest either proceed to stay on at the host country, work in Singapore (closest model of Malaysian lifestyle) or end up working in Malaysian private sector.

  4. Even if called up, scholars are not given proper jobs that match their specialist knowledge and in fact.

  5. In fact, if a scholar is called up, there are loopholes around the JPA - SPA system which a Oxford scholar can probably exploit and continue with his work at Barclays while totally ignoring the Government's notice or his contractual terms.

Now, I have no problems with scholars who end up working in Malaysian private sector. But there is no clear mechanism that all those 2500 scholars, who didn't get a "please serve your contractual bond" notice from Govt, end up contributing to the nation.

It seems to me many are in the first and second category - stay on at the host country or work in Singapore, the closest model of Malaysian lifestyle.

So yes, my fellow taxpayers. We have been financing the brain drain probably up to a conservative estimate of 1000 top scholars per year (out of an estimated 2500 private education scholars).

Now, tell me, why the hell do we need a Talent Corporation to identify talent when we are not even exploiting the academic but unpolished talent of Malaysia in the form of JPA scholars?

I do understand. JPA might not be able to hire all 2500 JPA scholars ever year. I have no problems with that.

But the geniuses in Government should have considered a solution to this. In the scholarship contract, it is easy to put in a clause to say that the JPA scholars are required to serve in the country with any company for a certain number of years, if not for the Government.

Don't tell me this can't be done. I heard Singapore is using this clause too.

If given a chance to act on this, I will surely tell those who walk the corridors of power that we don't need a Talent Corporation for now and please make full use of the 2500 students which the Government sponsors every year.

Every year, my fellow taxpayers, we are the financiers of the Brain Drain in Malaysia. On top of that, we have loopholes to the whole system! When will the leaders come to their senses and at least listen to me?

We really need a Civil Service Transformation Programme.


Anonymous said...

There are no brain drain in Malaysia, the problem

..whether Govt not able to identify the best people or they not interested to employ them and of course, through 'backdoor' they bring in 'weak people' (not competence) to manage the country.

these people are 'blunt', like 'ayam daging' and normally from their unemployed relative.

Once, not in short while, after independence, Malaysia was among best govt.. staff knew nothing except to offer their talent to our community..but now?

Muziun Negara, Tmn Burung etc..not updated by 2010 Brain Drain..(of course we are better than Africa..)

katdog said...

First off, trying to force your best scholars to come back to work in Malaysia may not be as useful as you might imagine.

Example, imagine if a scholar studied in US and was involved in research in Biophotonics. But there is no such research facilities in Malaysia. So you force said scholar to return to do instead some standard lab research work here in Malaysia. What a waste of talent. And trust me, once the person have served their required time they will still leave. And Malaysia will be not that much better off.

Secondly, even if there is a signed contract for a bond, how do you enforce it if said person is living in another country and refuses to return? Is Malaysia going to issue an extradition request for said person?

As many people have pointed out over and over again, Malaysia needs to be able to attract these people to return voluntarily. Not through threats and coercion.

Look at what Singapore does: top brains are actively pursued by their government. top scholars are monitored and approached during their final year. The government officials then actually make a compelling 'sales pitch' to such scholars offering them prospective job positions with guaranteed salaries and other perks etc. The Singapore government does all the paperwork. The scholar doesn't even have to look for a job himself, Singapore offers it to him.

Look at what Malaysia does: Government officials couldn't care less about the scholars (especially those of non-Malay ethnicities). Scholars have to apply for interested positions themselves. Many don't get replies even after months of waiting. Calls to the government departments merely results in answers of: your application is still in process. Those who have non-Malaysian partners/spouses have it even worst as they will have to apply for the necessary paperwork themselves. Then they face years of painful depressing uncertainty as the application becomes stuck 'in progress'.

You are correct in saying Malaysia doesn't need a Talent Corp. Because the things that the Talent Corp is supposed to do are things that ought to have been carried out by the government officials and civil servants in the first place. Singapore has no Talent Corp and a civil service that is 10 times smaller than Malaysia's, yet it is 10 times much more efficient and effective in wooing top scholars.

TalentWatch said...

Dear Sir,

Great article.

We hope you don't mind us reproducing part of it and linking it back here at

Many thanks.

eddy said...

Best critical but constructive post by far on the not very well thought out Talent Corporation plan.

I think the only people who will profit from these are highly paid consultant/headhunters going on "fishing trips" around the world probably in First Class on taxpayers accounts...OUR MONEY.

Anonymous said...

lu sudah giler ke , Goh Wei Liang ???

ini Najib punya idea, awak berani cabar ??

Goh Wei Liang lu balik tongsan lah !!


Mohamad Hisham said...

sebenarnya di Malaysia pun dah banyak graduan yang mampu berkerja di semua sektor. Kenapa x bagi peluang kepada kita yang di sini? di Malaysia ramai graduan yang menganggur tiada perkerjaan, org yang belajar oversea senang2 balik dapat kerja. than i like to ask, is it fair?

Anonymous said...

I agree with katdog above. There is that clause in the contract.. almost exactly like you worded it. But the problem is, it is not being enforced. This is a common problem in M'sia, we have facilities, laws, etc.. but in the end.. if maintenance/implementation is poor, we will not see much improvement.

I also agree with katdog on getting them back voluntarily. Forcing them will make it worse. Bright minds do not like to be bounded.

Anonymous said...

I just hope they have proper planning to do this. And it has to be fair to Malaysians professionals who do not leave Malaysia for greener pasture.
We are not lacking professionals or highly qualified individuals, main thing is we do not make use of these scholarships receivers who went to study abroad. Enforce a stricter rule so that they come back.Such a waste when the government give them means to study abroad, but they cant be bothered to come back and serve for few years at least.
This Talent Corp will be either a waste of money or it will be filled with those politically linked people and they will bring back those who are well connected with certain individuals in the country.
At the end, it will defeats its original purpose. And people in Msia will suffer.
There are hundreds of professional/highly skilled foreigners who are married to our m'sians citizens, unfortunately for some unclear reasons, companies are reluctant to hire them.
If only the government or the responsible ministries issue a statement that msian companies are allowed to hire these skilled foreigners and give out a clear guidelines, them im sure half of the vacancies will be filled.
And Talent Corp will be redundant.

beatrice said...

This article triggered my attention. Well, fair enough, if the government sponsored the 2,500 students to study abroad, then i feel its their core duty to come back and serve the country...

Now, lets talk about the others who went overseas to study solely based on their parent's savings or external scholarships. Im sure the brain drain is more than 2,500 people. Its millions of us.