The article Lack of infrastructure repels talent from returning appeared first on The Star.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia faces an uphill struggle in convincing its million-strong diaspora, of which nearly 30% have some form of tertiary education, to return and share their knowledge and experience even as the country embarks on reforms to transform the economy and achieve high-income status by the end of the decade.

Speakers at the third session of the national conference on “Making a high-income nation a reality” identified the lack of infrastructure such as a decent education system, meritocracy and leadership as reasons why skilled Malaysians were not coming back.

The speakers were orthopedic surgeon Dr Tai Cheh Chin, Dynamic Search Sdn Bhd director Tricia Yeoh and Leaderonomics Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Roshan Thiran with Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Wira Chor Chee Heung moderating.

Tai, who cited data that one of 10 medical doctors left the country, said there were not enough centres of excellence in the healthcare industry while research and development was lacking.

“It’s not always about the money but talent wants to be recognised and be appreciated and know that there are career opportunities, any reason except meritocracy is not going to attract talent,” he pointed out.

Tai said the Government needed to be more proactive in recruiting Malaysian talent from abroad. “When I was in Cambridge, no official approached me,” he added.

Yeoh, meanwhile, said the Government was not doing itself a favour when the good work done by the Performance Management & Delivery Unit and Talent Corp was overshadowed by lingering issues on ethnic-based policies.

“This will leave questions in the minds of the diaspora and make them more reluctant to come back,” she said, adding that the country had a very low return migration rate.

Yeoh said there must be a paradigm shift away from the ethnic-based policies to needs-based policies as there were inconsistencies in what the New Economic Model recommended and what certain agencies such as Teraju, set up by the Government to safeguard bumiputra business interests, stood for.

Roshan said talent was attracted to leadership and the infrastructure that developed leaders. “The heartbeat of leadership is the constant upgrading of skills. Leaders are made through experience,” he said.