Tuesday 10 April 2007

The Malaysian Chinese Dilemma: The Heavy Cost to the Nation

From Malaysiakini Letter to Editor: Read here


Dr.Hsu Dar Ren

Related articles (click below):

  • Islamonline -8th May,2001:
    "...Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Sunday expressed concern about a brain drain in the country if educational opportunities for non-Malays were restricted, and said Chinese and Indians should have access to more places in educational institutions."We will face a problem because the intelligent non-bumiputera [indigenous] Malaysians would be wooed by other countries interested in their capability," he said after opening an exhibition. Read here for more

  • Materia Medica Malaysiana - 2nd April 2007:
    " Singapore’s gain will be Malaysia’s loss, this time over the recruitment of doctors. This follows the decision of the Singapore Government to allow medical graduates from Universiti Malaya and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia to practise in the city-state.UM and UKM are the first institutions within Asean to receive such approval in the republic, which was announced by Singapore's Ministry of Health on Friday. The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), which said Singapore's move would worsen the shortage of medical specialists here, nevertheless welcomed the announcement that was also hailed by the Singapore Medical Association. MMA president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin said the decision was to do with “quality, not quantity.” “It is a good thing for both patients and the profession. Doctors should be free to move where they want,” he said. On the medical “brain drain” impact on Malaysia, Dr Teoh said this was bound to occur in any case. " Read here for more

  • Education in Malaysia (1st May,2006)
    "...Out of all the peers that my wife and I know who studied medicine overseas (Singapore, UK and Australia), probably 95% did not return to Malaysia....Those who studied in NUS or NTU in Singapore are very unlikely to come back to Malaysia....we have to ask whether those not returning are predominantly scholarship or non-scholarship holders. For example, the national costs for JPA sponsorees not returning is higher compared to a non-sponsoree.... the lack of returnees among PhD holders is also a concern especially given the sad state of our local universities. So if the government is concerned about brain drain, they can think through the issues systematically and find specific remedial measures rather than aim for more general strategies (such as making it easier for students to bring back luxury cars that they've bought while overseas) which are poorly targetted...." Read here for more

    Excerpts of Dr. Hsu Dar Ren's article: Read here for more

    ".... Many Malaysian parents, mainly the non-bumiputeras, have a dilemma regarding their children’s education and future.

    I just met a friend (who) is an engineer (with) two children. The eldest is a son who has just finished his studies in engineering in Australia. The second one is a daughter who has just gone to Australia to study business management.

    His dilemma is this: He had no choice but to send his son overseas in order to provide him with a good education and at the same time to broaden his perspective. He could have asked his son to study locally but the problem was that his son might not be given the course of his choice since majority of places for medicine and engineering courses are reserved for bumiputera students.

    My friend had to work very hard and had to be very thrifty in order to save to send his children overseas. And he is now near retirement age. He wants his son to come back Malaysia to work but he fears that his son may not get a good job and the prospect of promotions may be limited.

    So he asked me what to do.

    I told him this is the dilemma faced by many, many Chinese and Indian Malaysian parents.

  • Who doesn’t want their children to be around them?

  • But at the same time, if the children don’t have good job prospects here, what would the parents do?

    They would want the children to have the best chances and do something that they are happy with. And that means letting their children work overseas where the employment prospects are better, and where work satisfaction and upward mobility also better.

    I asked my friend, ‘Why don’t you join your son Down Under?’

    He answered that he loves Malaysia, he was born and bred here, his friends and relatives are all here, and his business is also here. He would feel out of place and it would not be easy for a middle-aged man to start his network and friends all over again in a foreign country.

    The Very High Cost to the Nation

    When a citizen’s child studies overseas, we lose precious foreign exchange and this is no small sum as an overseas education runs into hundreds of thousands of ringgit for each student.

    Over the years, how many Malaysians have gone overseas to study? Malaysian used to be the biggest group of foreign students in Australia, the UK, etc.

    How much money was lost?

    And how many of these did not come back?

    I have so many classmates working as consultants in the UK, Singapore and Australia that I have lost count. This is ‘brain drain’ and ‘brain loss’.

    Human capital is now recognised as the most important asset in this flattening world. Many of these who stay abroad become very famous scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs, etc.

    How much ‘brain’ was lost? No one can quantify that. Who knows, Malaysia would have become a First World country by now if we had all these brains realising their potential locally. Everyone, both bumi and non-bumi, would have benefitted more by now.

    How about the human cost? How many families were separated? How many parents died a lonely death because their children were overseas?

    The lists go on and the dilemma is getting more acute.

    What can we do about this ?

    We should in fact be more farsighted. Intake for local tertiary education should be based on merit, with maybe a small proportion reserved for socially-handicapped people.

    For those studying overseas, try to lure them back, place them in GLCs such as Petronas, TNB, Telekom and government departments and let their promotion be based on merit.

    That way, these companies can be much more successful, the country be more prosperous and there will be that much more job prospects.

    In turn, the economic cake grows bigger and we then have a bigger capacity to offer affirmative action for the less-advantaged groups.

    By being farsighted, we will be rewarded with every ethnic group getting a bigger share of the economy.

    Read below related article - A "Letter to the Editor" in Star dated September 14, 2006

    Malaysia's Loss is UK's Gain

  • by


    "I HAVE a master’s degree from Imperial College and am completing my doctoral studies in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford in the UK.

    I too face a similar dilemma as Sylvia Hsu-Chen Yip from Canberra, “We need to feel appreciated” (The Star, Sept 12). I am unsure whether I would return home after completing my PhD.

    This is a similar dilemma being faced by many non-bumiputra Malaysians in the UK. I joined a Malaysian public university in the hope of being able to pursue my PhD abroad.

    At the university, I learned that there were two staff study support programmes for postgraduate degrees, a bumiputra programme and a non-bumiputra programme.

    I was so disappointed to learn of this that I left the university in three months. MARA used to give students loans to study abroad, and students used to only pay a percentage of the loan upon completing their studies.

    If you had a first class degree, the loan became a scholarship. If you had a second upper degree, you paid 10% and so on. There were also loans for postgraduate studies, but I was not eligible for them.

    I am currently completing my PhD through personal funds.

    Anxious to find work to support myself, I was invited as a lecturer for Magdalen College, University of Oxford, in my first term at Oxford.

    Even my supervisor was amazed by this, as he mentioned that it was unusual for someone to be invited to teach, having just arrived at Oxford.

    Extremely pleased with the quality of my teaching, the University of Oxford asked me to continue teaching until the end of my studies.

    I was recommended to Brasenose College, University of Oxford, which subsequently appointed me to a more substantial lectureship at the college.

    Recognising the quality of my work, Brasenose College Oxford also asked me to help in undergraduate admissions in December.

    I will be interviewing students who apply to study Engineering Science at Oxford.

    My research has not suffered. My supervisor was surprised that I could not secure a scholarship, and is trying to secure funding for me from the British government.

    I have also just been invited to settle down in the UK as a “Highly Skilled Migrant”, a status granted by the British Home Office based on my education, experience and achievements at international level.

    I really want to return home as I want to be with my parents and family. Unfortunately, as I need to repay the family loans which helped me to complete my PhD, I will be staying on in the UK to work.

    I have been told that any company would be more than willing to employ me, what with a master’s from Imperial and a PhD from Oxford.

    I feel unappreciated in Malaysia. I could have contributed so much to the country, especially considering that Malaysia aims to become a regional education hub.

    Malaysia’s loss is UK’s gain. "


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