MALAYSIA — Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar recently revealed that out of the 1.86 million Malaysians who have migrated overseas, 1.13 million reside in Singapore as of 2022.
Minister Sivakumar pointed out that brain drain is a common issue globally, with 3.6% of the world’s population having migrated from their home country.
“From the Malaysian perspective, the migration percentage is 5.6% from the total population (33 million). So, if you compare globally, the disparity is big, but in micro context, the migration consists of 1.86 million people,” said Minister Sivakumar.
This was highlighted during an industry dialogue session on Tuesday(7 March), themed “Malaysia Madani: Addressing Challenges in the Talent Ecosystem”.
Minister Sivakumar said that the majority of Malaysian migrants have only gone to neighboring country Singapore and emphasized the need to address the brain drain issue.
He noted that some Malaysians have also migrated to the United States, Australia, and Canada, and there are opposing views on whether this is beneficial for gaining experience and knowledge.
Malaysians seeking better opportunities abroad
Malaysia has been experiencing a brain drain for many years, with many of its brightest and most talented citizens leaving the country in search of better opportunities abroad.
As of today(8 March), S$1.00 is approximately equivalentto RM 3.32. There are over 350,000 people Malaysians commuting daily to Singapore via the Causeway even before pre-Covid times.
According to United Nations (UN) figures, close to one million Malaysians have been residing in Singapore as of 2019, making Singapore home to the largest Malaysian diaspora population.
Based on data from the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the number of Malaysian migrants in Singapore has gone up from 195,072 in 1990 to 952,261 in 2019.
It is noteworthy that these numbers do not include Malaysians who have converted to Singaporeans.
There could be many reasons why the brain drain is occurring in Malaysia; one major factor is the lack of economic opportunities and competitive salaries for highly skilled workers in Malaysia, particularly in certain sectors like science and technology.
Stanford Computer Science attributed it to social injustice, particularly the special privileges afforded to Malays under the Constitution.
The Constitution provides extra assistance for Malays in starting businesses, mandatory discounts for real estate, and a quota system for education opportunities based on racial distribution, which has led to feelings of unfair treatment among non-Malays.
Netizens commented when growth opportunities are limited; talented individuals may look elsewhere
Commenting on The Star’s Facebook post, Malaysia’s netizens expressed concern about Malaysia’s ongoing brain drain issue.
A netizen suggested that the Malaysian government should prioritize developing strategies to reduce brain drain by investing in people and creating more opportunities that are accessible to everyone.
The commenter also stated that although many Malaysians have migrated overseas for work, a significant number have settled down in their new countries and are unlikely to return.
A netizen’s comment highlights an important issue that many organizations face in retaining their top talent. When career growth opportunities are limited, talented individuals may look elsewhere for opportunities to advance their careers.
A Malaysian who was worked in overseas, said while working overseas may provide new opportunities and experiences, there is a certain level of comfort and familiarity that comes with working in one’s home country.
Malaysia losing some of its “best and brightest” medical graduates to Singapore annually
Last year, Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, former Universiti Malaya (UM) medical faculty dean, warned that Malaysia is losing some of its “best and brightest” medical graduates to Singapore annually.
She claimed that at least 30 UM medical graduates per year choose to undergo houseman training in Singapore instead of Malaysia.
“I don’t blame my young colleagues at all. I, too, would go where the opportunities are. We are failing them. How can we expect to build a resilient and world-class health system when we have this continuous internal and external brain drain?”
We will continue to have this problem forever, until we are serious about addressing the health care workers’ issues in 🇲🇾 – doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. For a start we can perhaps look at urgently plugging the brain drain of fresh medical graduates and MOs; https://t.co/322A4tFsuW
— Adeeba Kamarulzaman (@ProfAdeeba) December 22, 2022