Malaysia is making various efforts to attract Malaysian experts working abroad to return home to serve the country.
Minister of Human Resources Fong Chan Onn said, Malaysia has recognized the urgency to make the leap into the next stage of economic development by enhancing the competitiveness of human resource, especially through the creation of a knowledgeable and skilled work force.
Malaysia has some 1,500 scientists and researchers for every one million people compared with over 10,000 scientists and researchers for one million population in the developed countries.
In recent visits to the United States, Britain and France, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi urged Malaysian students who have completed their studies overseas to return home to contribute to the nation-building.
He called on Malaysian talents working in foreign countries to play more important role in making their motherland an advanced nation.
According to press reports, there are some 70,000 Malaysian students studying in foreign countries, about 30,000 of them, who have completed their studies overseas, are working in the Western countries lured by higher pay and opportunities to further their researches.
In past few years, the Malaysian government has introduced several incentives to attract the Malaysian talents to return. They include allowing them to bring back cars tax-free and allowing foreign spouses to work in Malaysia, apart from bigger pay packets.
Obviously, the incentives are not attractive enough. Since 2001, the country has only attracted some 300 Malaysian experts living abroad to return home with the majority being medical and financial specialists, scientists and those involved in the information technology sector, according to the Ministry of Human Resources.
To encourage more Malaysian talents to come home, the government is going to implement a program called "Brain Gain" to reverse the situation of the brain drain.
Under the program, the Human Resources Ministry will make venture capital, financial assistance and research development facilities more accessible for the Malaysian experts who have returned home. The ministry is willing to negotiate with banks to fund venture capital for these experts based on the ideas proposed.
The government has also offered permanent resident status for their spouses who are not Malaysian citizens, which will be issued within six months.
As one of ways for the overseas Malaysian experts, who are currently reluctant to come back due to various factors, to serve the country, steps are being taken to enable these scientists to conduct researches in the country on a part-time basis and in cooperation with local scientists.
With this method, Malaysian scientists abroad need not stay in the country full time but at the same time could give their contribution to the researches conducted in Malaysia.
An example of such cooperation has been set between scientists at Malaysia Kebangsaan University's Biological Lab and that of Genom Lab in the United States.
The unattractive salary and incentive packages as well as tax regime are among the discouraging factors causing Malaysian scientists not to come back, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Jamaluddin Jarjis observed recently.
However, he added the cabinet has instructed his ministry to further review the present incentives with a view to offer more attractive ones.
Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"