Each time I read an article about incentives being given to attract Malaysian talent back home, the more I feel the powers-that-be are pretending to be naive or are refusing to see the real reasons behind emigration.
They always assume that monetary gain is the main reason. From my observation of so many who have emigrated, this is not the case.
In fact, a majority of them were initially better off here than when they landed in their adopted country. They endured a nerve-racking first few months, facing joblessness and having no one to turn to except God.
There was a non-bumiputera man who worked as a government clerk here in Malaysia. He was bypassed for promotion year after year, while his bumiputera juniors leapfrogged over him. Mind you, he was a very hardworking clerk.
Frustrated, armed with just a certificate in computer programming, he managed to migrate to a foreign country. Life was tough there. Having two children to care for, he toiled day and night to make ends meet. Finally due to his diligence, he managed to land a job with a big multinational.
He has never looked back from there. Today he is senior consultant with that company, with three big cars and a big fat salary.
In his own words, he confessed that Malaysia is a beautiful country. It was its discriminatory policies that drove him away and had he remained here he would still be languishing as a clerk.
This clearly shows that it is no fun to emigrate. But the majority who did so were forced by circumstances here in Malaysia. Most of them just want a level-playing field in education and job opportunities both for their children and themselves.
The way to convince those abroad to return is not by offering them the opportunity to bring two cars home without being taxed. This must be a joke. The right way is to tell them that we will re-engineer our policy: namely, all children will sit for one uniform type of university entrance exam.
No more matriculation, no more registration of examination by race, no more quotas for university entrance. All intake will be based strictly on merit. Promotions in public service, too, would be by merit.
We must assure our overseas talent that we are working on a level-playing field in all aspects of our life. Otherwise, just forget about them coming home. Using all our resources to prevent further outflow would be the best alternative.