WE are approaching 2020, a year expected to bring about significant changes, driving positive socioeconomic growth. At least, that was the hope 10 to 20 years back. Now, however, our national landscape is still burdened by identity politics, distrust towards the ruling government and a lack of clarity over the steps needed to ensure consistent, public-driven economic growth.
Take the latest announcement on projected GDP growth for next year, for instance. While the projected rate of 4.8% shows an upward trend, the underlying factors outlined by the Economic Affairs Minister – including economic and export structure, supportive labour market, stable inflation rate and healthy current account surplus – seem to undermine the real employment and income-based issues gripping regular folks in the (low income) B40 and (middle income) M40 groups.
It would not hurt to call upon our diaspora to help Malaysia’s nation-building process. With tremendous expertise, well-defined knowledge and international exposure across traditional as well as modern sectors, this group of trailblazers could chart a new path by introducing sophisticated ideas, advanced methods and professional values into our working culture.
If they do return, it would crucial for them to be placed in the most relevant positions to capitalise on their abilities. Attracting them with competitive salaries and benefits is just one part; the other major pull factor is to provide them with up-to-date platforms for them to contribute in their respective fields.
I personally know several people working at established corporations like Apple Inc, Google, Microsoft and Amazon who want to return but have postponed plans as they believe that Malaysia’s ecosystem will not allow them to thrive creatively. This situation should be reversed to motivate our best talents to return home as long-term contributors.
Additionally, they can be appointed as industry advisors cum consultants, utilising their skill sets to boost Malaysian participation in high-value industries such as aerospace, defence, maritime, IT and creative design/entertainment.
We have to go beyond the thinking that only Malaysian-trained individuals are deemed capable to hold top leadership positions, as the global and regional trends are developing day by day.
Statistics produced by TalentCorp (the national agency driving Malay-sia’s talent strategy) indicated 5,024 returnees from 2011 to 2018 – still a small number out of the total. Strategic and intensive efforts need to be made to increase the figure, eventually harnessing exceptional figures to drive the expansion of the Malaysian economy.
There are also more than 47,000 Malaysian students studying overseas (including postgraduate and prospective scholars). Their academic focus, practical ambition, industrial match and personal goals must be monitored and guided to facilitate their career growth once home. Cases of delayed scholarship provision, inadequate information about academic institutions and misinformation facing Malaysian students which were reported in the United States and Taiwan should be appropriately resolved, as these issues may cause recurring distraction among our talents.
Looking forward, it is time for us to look beyond local economic drivers and start pulling our creme-de-la-creme back home. We need thinkers, doers, goal-getters and innovation-oriented individuals with grand visions and long-term targets – and who are not bound to any political motives.
Generating a sustainable wave of economic growth demands we create our own pool of talent complemented with the right experts, aided by a free-flowing exchange of thoughts and direct links to industrial practices.
The year 2020 presents the perfect platform for us to reinvigorate our efforts and practices, preserving the existing blueprint with a fresh outlook.
Senior Research Officer, Merdeka Center for Opinion Research
What do you think of this article?