Malaysia losing its best and brightest to Singapore
First Published: 7:41pm, Oct 08, 2013
KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 8): Malaysia is losing its talent to its southern neighbour, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
It reported that the nation is losing its best and brightest who are frustrated by a lack of opportunities.
The Human Capital Index, a new index that measures a country’s ability to develop its workforce recently ranked Singapore No. 3 out of 122 countries globally. Switzerland topped the list followed by Finland.
Malaysia came in an admirable 22nd and is second in Southeast Asia, above Thailand at 44, Indonesia at 53 and the Philippines at 66.
But the index highlighted how a series of affirmative-action policies and an over-reliance on cheap, imported labor have kept Malaysia from building a skilled work force capable of competing with smaller but richer Singapore.
Published by the World Economic Forum, the Human Capital Index assessed things like health-care quality, infrastructure and education, to determine how capable countries are of developing a healthy pool of workers.
The report quoted analysts as attributing the influx of foreign workers to why companies had little incentive to raise wages or modernise operations to boost productivity.
It also touched on the flagging education system with local universities slipping in global rankings where no Malaysian institute of higher learning made it to the top 400 of the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
A recent report by recruitment consulting firm Kelly Services pointed out that 20 per cent of Malaysia’s highly educated opt for richer countries – many settling in Singapore.
The exodus of local talent means the country faces a shortage of skilled professionals, including bankers, researchers and engineers.
“Further contributing to the skills shortage is the reality that 60% of immigrants have only primary education or less, and the number of skilled expatriates has declined by 25% since 2004,” the report by Kelly Services said.
That matters a lot, according to World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab, who, in a statement during the index’s launch, called the “key for the future of any country” its ability to develop the skills and talent of its people.
The analysts, said the WSJ, blamed affirmative policies for the exodus. It said these policies departed from its noble intentions of elevating the Bumiputeras, to enriching political cronies.
It noted that while Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had vowed to dismantle those policies and replace them with assistance based on need, the Umno president had caved to party pressure and instead announced RM3 billion in new measures to help ethnic Malays, including loans for entrepreneurs, job quotas at businesses linked to the government and new housing for the poor.