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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Damaging brain drain from Malaysia. Two-fold increase in Malaysians giving up citizenship

By Lee Wei Lian  | kUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 | malaysianinsider

– The number of Malaysians who surrendered their citizenship has almost doubled in this year, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Senator A. Kohilan Pillay, who revealed today that about 3,800 Malaysians have given up their citizenships to date compared to 2,000 last year.

This figure, however, is much smaller than the 304,358 Malaysians who were reported to have migrated from March 2008 to August 2009.

Kohilan clarified that the number of “Malaysians who migrated” consists of those who are working abroad and registered with the respective Malaysian embassies.

There was nevertheless a sharp rise in the number of Malaysians who registered themselves as having moved abroad with 210,000 of them doing so from January to August this year compared with 94,000 from March to December 2008.

He also said that between 45 to 55 per cent, or roughly half, of the Malaysians working abroad are professionals.

The volume of Malaysian talent moving abroad is a potentially damaging brain drain and a matter of concern as the country is attempting to remake itself into a developed high-income nation.

The most common reasons given for migration were better education, brighter career or business prospects and marriage.

Kohilan also pointed out that the government is taking some steps to attract talent to the country, including making it easier for foreigners with desired expertise to obtain permanent residence.

Kohilan, who is from Gerakan, also criticised the Penang state government currently under Pakatan Rakyat, saying that they should stop using the shortage of engineers an excuse for the recent loss of an RM10 billion electronic factory investment and should instead find ways to overcome it.

“Penang should not blame others if there is no investment,” Kohilan told The Malaysian Insider. “What professionals would want to stay there if there is only push factors? There must also be pull factors. They must think wisely and make sure the state also has pull factors.”

Kohilan said that there was no breakdown by race for Malaysians who have moved abroad but some migration agents have noticed a rise in applications from Malays to migrate over the past few years.

Robert Chelliah, who runs a migration consultancy in Petaling Jaya says that he has seen a noticeable increase in interest among Malays to move to Australia.

“These are educated Malays and they feel frustrated with the system of governance and they have a global frame of reference to make comparisons,” he said.

“Generally, the push factor from Malaysia has been on the rise ... people feel pushed away from the country. They feel alienated and they feel that their prospects are limited by factors that they have no control over,” he added.

According to Kohilan, Australia had the most number of Malaysians registered with the Malaysian embassy with 274,000 and the US second with 31,000 and Taiwan third with 14,000.

He added that there were about 50,000 Malaysian students now studying abroad.

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