M’sian engineers wouldn’t leave if they had 2/3 of Singaporean salary, says Chin Tong

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian companies should pay local engineers better in order to prevent more engineers from migrating abroad, says Deputy Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Liew Chin Tong.

He said local engineers would remain in Malaysia if companies are willing to pay at least two-thirds of an average engineer's salary in Singapore.

“For those (engineers) who went to Singapore, if they were offered two-thirds of Singaporean salaries, they would rather stay in Malaysia.

“This is the message to companies, that as competition intensifies with more companies coming into our country, they should be paying higher salaries ,” said Liew during Question Time in Parliament on Tuesday (March 26).

Aside from offering better salaries, Liew said education institutions should offer courses that are relevant to industry needs at present.

“Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions and universities should offer courses that are required by the industry,” added Liew in responding to Mohd Isam Mohd Isa (BN-Tampin), who asked about Putrajaya’s measures to prevent brain drain involving local engineers.

Mohd Isam said the electrical and electronics products (E&E) industry requires 50,000 engineers at the moment, but there were only 5,000 engineers in the local workforce.

“Some of them are opting to work in Singapore instead due to the good salary,” added Mohd Isam.

Earlier, Liew said the trade and technology competition between China and US in the semiconductor industry has led to many multinational semiconductor companies to reduce dependency on a sole country.

As a result, Liew said many large companies that were long-established in Malaysia such as US-based Intel and Germany-based Infineon chose to significantly expand their operations in Malaysia.

Liew also said many companies chose Malaysia as a new location for their manufacturing facilities.

“Malaysia has an advantage compared to other countries as we have had a mature semiconductor industry ecosystem since the 1970s, especially the E&E cluster in Penang and Kulim,” said Liew.

“The investment spillover is expected to place Malaysia as an important international investment destination in developing the global chip industry.

“Malaysia must seize this golden opportunity to expand the national semiconductor industry and be a high-value semiconductor manufacturing company,” said Liew, who added high-value activities that conduct research and development will in tandem create more high-value job opportunities for Malaysians.

He said the Malaysian Investment Development Authority approved 120 projects worth RM85.4bil in investments at the E&E industry, which also consists of 56% of approved investments in the manufacturing sector.

“As a comparison, the amount of approved investments at the E&E industry is way more than the approved investments in 2022, with a difference of about RM55bil.

“On exports, the E&E industry contributed 47.3% to the overall exports of locally made items, which is worth RM575.45bil in 2023,” added Liew.

Liew also said Putrajaya set up the National Semiconductor Strategic Task Force (NSSTF) which consists of various stakeholders from several ministries, government departments, higher learning institutions and industry associations.

Liew said the NSSTF special advisory panel was established and it consists of experts from various values and supply in the semiconductor industry.

According to Liew, NSSTF functions as a platform to discuss and implement policies, strategies and efforts to attract strategic investments in the semiconductor industry.

“The government is committed to develop the semiconductor industry which is now the country’s strategic source, in line with the phrase ‘semiconductor is the new oil’,” added Liew when responding to Datuk Ahmad Amzad Mohamed Hashim (PN-Kuala Terengganu), who asked about Miti’s plans in positioning the local E&E industry as a main hub in producing semiconductors.

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