Khairy Jamaluddin, supposedly the top brain of UMNO before he was sacked, has finally admitted that the brain drain in Malaysia is a serious problem. It’s both entertaining and flabbergasting that the Oxford educated genius suddenly realizes that a mother is actually female (who can produce offspring). He talked as if the issue of brain drain began yesterday.
The former health minister, who was sacked by the Malay nationalist party in January this year for sabotaging his own party during the Nov 2022 general election, was trying to steal the thunder from the Speaker of Lower House – Johari Abdul – who urged Malaysian students in China to return home upon graduation to help develop the country. But why should they?
Apparently, the Speaker told the students, all of whom are ethnic Chinese at the prestigious Tsinghua University, to learn as much as possible from China before returning to contribute to their homeland. Crucially, he told all the students to come back not to start looking for jobs, but to lead the country as well as to become entrepreneurs and use their connections to develop Malaysia.
Does Speaker Johari know the reasons those students left Malaysia to study in Tsinghua in the first place? Does he know that Tsinghua is known as “China’s MIT”? Heck, did he even realize that most of the Malaysian students accepted into Tsinghua were top scorers of UEC examination, the same Unified Examination Certificate that the Government of Malaysia refuses to recognize for decades?
Yes, Tsinghua is one of China’s top schools for studying sciences. Ranked 18th by the Times Higher Education as the world’s top-20 schools, the university has been producing top brains, ranging from Nobel laureates to tech innovators and from esteemed diplomats to global leaders. It was ranked 2nd best place in the world to study Material Science and 4th to study Electronic and Electrical Engineering.
Tsinghua and Peking University are like China’s Oxford and Cambridge, competing with each other in research. In fact, Tsinghua produced more of the top 1% most highly cited papers in maths and computing, and more of the 10% most highly cited papers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), than any other university in the world.
Current Chinese president Xi Jinping and his predecessor Hu Jintao were graduates of Tsinghua. And there are thousands of brilliant Tsinghua graduates being hired by Huawei Technologies Co. (they have more than 100,000 employees in R&D, mind you), the tech giant which recently stunned the U.S. with the introduction of Huawei Mate 60 Pro phones powered by 7-nanometre chip.
Mr Khairy said top brains have left not only due to higher salaries being offered abroad, but also because of other factors. He mentioned bureaucracy for local talents to kick-start their business or outdated local market in supporting sophisticated products. He acknowledged the 500-pound gorilla in the room – “second-class citizens” treatment of non-Bumiputeras.
He was probably referring to Grab, originally known as “My Teksi”, which was first started by Harvard graduate Anthony Tan in Malaysia in 2012. Thanks to bureaucracy and regulatory issues in doing business in the country, Anthony and his co-founder Malaysian internet entrepreneur, Tan Hooi Ling, another Harvard graduate, moved the company headquarters from Malaysia to Singapore.
Grab had tried to apply for financial grants from Khazanah Nasional, the sovereign wealth fund of the Government of Malaysia. But the long process and Khazanah’s disagreement to the deal saw Singapore investment fund Temasek quickly grabbed the opportunity and pumped US$10 million into Grab in 2014 – an example of how businesses and Malaysian talents are lost to foreign countries.
However, Khairy cunningly refused to link the root problem to “Ketuanan Melayu” – the ideology of Malay supremacy espoused by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which he was part of till he was fired. The racist and discrimination policy saw brain drain in the form of hundreds of thousands of technical skills went through a large scale migration to other countries.
Not only the racist policy caused the brain drain at an industrial scale, but it also spooks both foreign and domestic investors. Years before Malaysian internet entrepreneur Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling founded Grab and migrated to Singapore, “Sugar King” Robert Kuok and gaming giant Genting Berhad had already moved their business head office to Hong Kong and Singapore respectively.
It becomes worse when the NEP (New Economic Policy), a discrimination and racist policy derived from the “Ketuanan Melayu”, was quietly upgraded by greedy and parasite Malay elites to rob the businesses belonging to minorities Chinese and Indian – from 30% to 51% stake – under the pretext that the Malays or Bumiputeras were still poor and needed to be given equities without lifting a finger.
The burning question is this – exactly where was Khairy, the son-in-law of former Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, when the brain drain has been happening for the last 60 years? It screams hypocrisy at the highest level when he was part of – even had benefited from – the racist and discriminatory policy, only to blame the system now in an attempt to project himself as the clever guy.
During the Badawi administration (2003-2009), Khairy was the leader of the infamous “4th-floor boys” running the country on behalf of his father-in-law, operating just a storey below the Prime Minister’s Office. As the most powerful 28-year-old in Malaysia, Khairy was busy enriching and empowering himself by controlling and manipulating the premier, instead of voicing his concern about brain drain.
Even after Badawi and UMNO-led government had lost power, he did nothing as Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation in the backdoor government of Muhyiddin Yassin. And he has the cheek to blame the brain drain on racist policy when he happily served the most racist premier Muhyiddin (and still hopes to serve him again) in oppressing and bullying non-Bumiputeras.
At the very least, he should have pushed Muhyiddin administration to promote the STEM education in “national schools”. But he did nothing and kept silent as his friends in the religious extremist PAS Islamist party pushed for more religious study, the same way he stayed as quiet as a church mouse when his former boss, ex-PM Najib Razak, stole money in the infamous 1MDB scandal.
It appears that both Johari and Khairy agree that Chinese vernacular schools are not only of top quality, but also contribute to the development of the country. It also proves that the national schools are in a deplorable state, so much so that the Speaker, and Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim for that matter, is begging graduates from Tsinghua to return to help the ailing country.
Had the national schools and local universities been able to produce quality students instead of unemployable graduates, Speaker Johari did not need to fly to Beijing to persuade the Malaysian Chinese students to come back. Had the UEC examination been recognized, there would not have been a brain drain because it would also mean racist policy does not exist to begin with.
So, both Khairy and Johari deliberately ignore the vital ingredient in retaining top brain – education. Quality education is the reason why Singapore skyrockets ahead, leaving Malaysia in the dust. Of course, they can’t demonize the Malay-language national schools for the disaster as it would be a political suicide. The Chinese who were told to go back to “tongsan” (China) are now being asked to come back.
Malaysian education system is a joke. Last year, at least 90,000 of the 373,974 candidates who sat for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination – equivalent to “O” Level – had failed the Mathematics paper, while a whopping 52,674 candidates flunked English. Overall, 42.9% of the candidates, or 160,435 students, failed at least one subject. But here’s the best part.
According to some teachers who used to mark SPM exam papers, the passing score could be as low as 20%, especially for subjects like Mathematics and Science in order to make students of certain ethnic happy (“syiok sendiri”). Even then, some 30,000 candidates who were registered did not sit for the SPM. It’s not surprising that the system produces unemployable graduates.
Get real, do you really think after being discriminated since their young age, the talented Tsinghua graduates would foolishly come back to start a new business so that it can provide employment for local unemployable graduates, a problem created by the racist policy in the first place? Worse, when the business thrives, the Bumiputeras will force their way and demand 51% stake.
For example, Sitiawan-born Prof Kee Keh Kooi is the Tsinghua University lecturer currently heading a team to study how gravity and radiation affect the development of human stem cells in space. A former student from Foon Yew High School, he obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Iowa State University, before doing his PhD at Weill Cornell University.
Will a local university allow a Chinese like Kee to head a research team, let alone allowing him to claim credits for all the achievements? Heck, does Malaysia even have the necessary technology and sophistication in R&D in stem cells? While China recognizes both local and foreign talents, Malaysia happily chase away local talents due to different skin colours and welcome Bangladeshi cheap labours.
Even if Malaysian Chinese are being treated as second class citizens in Singapore, it is still much better than being threatened by racist bigots and religious extremists in Malaysia. At least, they can find comfort in Singapore currency, which has 3.5-times more purchasing power than the useless Malaysia Ringgit. Nope, Malaysia can never compete with Singapore even in the next 50 years.
The solution is incredibly simple – abolish racist policy like the NEP, which is being ridiculed as “Never Ending Policy”, and stop preaching “Ketuanan Melayu”. The Malay supremacy is the toxin that produces Grab delivery boys rather than scientists, engineers, researchers and entrepreneurs needed to develop the country. But not even Khairy, let alone PM Anwar, has the balls to call a spade a spade.
Source : Finance Twitter