Give incentives to reverse brain drain from Malaysia

  • Business
  • Friday, 15 Jan 2010

WE have heard or read the call by our leaders for Malaysia’s “best brains” to come back numerous times.

On Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin did the same while in London.

The difference this time is that he is calling on creative minds to re-look at their native soil because Malaysia will be announcing a new economic model with some focus on innovation and creativity.

There was therefore a need for “well trained, innovative and creative Malaysians to fulfil the needs of the new economic model. Talents abroad who are experienced should come back and serve the country,’’ Muhyiddin said.

They left for various reasons and the lack of opportunities here tops the list, so will they return?

Maybe, but some have made it big out there. Others were part of animation teams that created box office hits such as Transformers 2, KungFu Panda, Titanic and Species.

Affendy (not his real name) regrets coming back from the United States as he is finding it hard to get animation jobs here. Victor Yap, who is vice-president of Comic Fiesta Organising Committee (Comics Fiesta is held annually for the past nine years), said there are many talents out here scrambling for opportunities. They also know of talented artists that have become lawyers, lecturers, engineers and architects because they cannot land creative jobs.

The creative industry is plagued with issues, foremost of which, is the dearth of opportunities. There is also little recognition for creative work and the remuneration is on the lower end when compared with many other countries.

“If you work for Marvel Comics, you get paid US$180 per page. Here, for the same work you get RM70 and that can be demoralising,” Affendy said.

Experts claim copyright laws are vague here and the enforcement lacking.

But we also cannot deny that there has been progress in the various fields of the creative industry and success with Les’Copaque Production’s animated feature Geng: Pengembaraaan Bermula, Upin and Ipin and Jangan Pandang Belakang Congkak. Some animation houses here are now doing more work for Hollywood.

We also need to shift to a higher gear if we want to grow the industry and while luring talent is great, we also have to look within and nurture our talents from young since the future agenda of the country involves creativity and innovation.

Art is often not taken seriously and while parents do send their children for art classes, the shift in focus to other subjects takes place after a while as art is widely viewed as not being able to guarantee a big-pay packet.

There is also lack of institutions that can teach a three-, seven- or an 11-year-old the fundamentals of game development, animation, comic drawing other than sketching figures and colouring them, or how to incorporate the audio effects. This is taught in universities or higher education centres.

If Malaysia is serious about riding the creative and innovation wave, it needs to give enough opportunities for the young creative minds to be nurtured and provide incentives for those in the field to get their projects off the ground as funding is critical for the development of the creative and innovation industry.

● Deputy news editor B.K. SIDHU says it is nice to know that the fate of Astro’s Hindi Power programme on THR Radio will now be decided on Jan 25, and fervently hopes is not scrapped in the west coast.

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