Malaysians are leaving because of bad politicians and bad policies.

Another friend of mine is migrating to Australia with his young family. He has just completed his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree and was enjoying a solid career in the private education sector here. His reasons are to secure a better future for his children and a more balanced lifestyle for himself.

The World Bank stated in its report in 2010 that more than one million Malaysians are currently living or studying abroad. Slightly less than half of these Malaysians are tertiary educated or professionally trained.

Almost 40 per cent of them are living and working in Singapore alone, making up almost half of all foreign talents in the city-state. The migration trend is getting younger too and a large number of Malaysians who are graduating earlier at the age of 21 to 23 years old have chosen to remain abroad.

Malaysians are continuing to go abroad for their education or preferring to move abroad for their children’s education. The trend looks unstoppable despite the claim by Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh that Malaysia’s higher education is now on par with those of developed nations including the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.

The question is why some Malaysians do not feel confident that the country is able to provide a better future for their children and themselves?

In its fourth issue of the Malaysia Economic Monitor, the World Bank report stated that 60 per cent of the respondents found that social injustice as their main concern to migrate or return-migrate, citing unequal access to scholarships and higher education especially among the younger generation within the non-Bumiputera community.

Talent Corp said higher salaries, better professional opportunities and a comfortable life are the main reasons Malaysian professionals living abroad are reluctant to return to Malaysia.

If these are the reasons, the expensively assembled agency to lure local and foreign talents to Malaysia is going to find the going tough. Over the last 24 months since GE13, the quality of governance, unbearable politicking and high profile scandals are set to drag the country’s appeal to talents further down the rotten alley.

It should be noted that Malaysia offers breathtaking scenery and natural landscape, a fantastic weather and enough social cultural charm and richness. But low quality and selfish politicians have overshadowed the country’s beauty and charm.
It is a hard truth that Malaysians are moving abroad not because of its natural condition, food or social fabric. They moved abroad and refused to return mainly due to the conduct of our politicians and the policies they have implemented. Who would want to return if politicians from both sides of the divide are trying to race the country towards abysm by promoting exclusivist and divisive policies and by abusing power to meet their own ends?

How to promote a higher income society if the government continues to allow cheap and low skilled migrant workers into the country? Malaysia’s migration policy, which is based on religion and race, is probably the most regressive in the world and most detrimental to a country.

For a record, Malaysia has been recording an unhealthy net outflow of capital and brains for years. More than 17,000 Malaysians are putting in their migration papers every month. In return, Malaysia is a host to more than five million documented and undocumented low skilled migrants.

The country continuous dependence of low skilled labour is the biggest hindrance to creating better value jobs and career opportunities. It is not unusual to hear our foreign trained scientists or professionals citing a lack of professional and research opportunities for not being able to return.

Has the government being proactive to create better economic conditions for our talents to return? Unfortunately, the government policy, both federal and state, for development is short sighted and myopic. Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat politicians are more concerned with policies that help to meet their political needs.

In Malaysia, the fixation with real estate and infrastructure developments as the main catalyst for economic growth is both problematic and unsustainable. Due to excessive property speculations, the household debt per capita is almost 84 percent of the total gross product (GDP).

If the economic development policy was rightly created and implemented, we would not have been staring at the wasteful Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project and the scandalous 1MDB sovereign fund. These mega failures are examples of Malaysia’s waning ability to introduce grand visions and plan to attract global attention, brains and funds to the country.

When probed, the PR controlled states such as Penang and Selangor are claiming that there’s nothing wrong with the current economic framework. They just need to be better implementers than the BN.

It seems that local developments in Penang and Selangor are taking the same dangerous route again. State owned lands have been sold and traded for infrastructure development. At state level, the Pakatan government has successfully manipulated an outpouring of goodwill to push through multi-billion public projects that they claimed are aimed at improving local standard of living but the real benefactors remained the developers the state is dealing with.

The double whammy means cost of living will continue to increase in tandem with property prices. Quality of life is going to be compromised by incessant development but a lack of infrastructure and public transport planning. How is the country able to provide an attractive and conducive living environment to attract talents to come home?

I have met many Malaysian friends living abroad who would make an annual pilgrimage home, to treat their homesickness perhaps. If the politicians start to make things right, Malaysia can definitely become the preferred destination for talents.

This can only be achieved if we put the right people in charge of the country. Not those who are using our mandate to push through their own agenda. It is a fact that only ordinary Malaysians, 29,900,000 of them, can help to save Malaysia. We cannot depend on politicians and political parties to help build a better future for us or our country.