PETALING JAYA: DAP’s Syerleena Abdul Rashid has dismissed Abdul Razak Baginda’s advice to job seekers to emigrate as coming from an elitist disconnected from mainstream Malaysian society.
She was referring to a statement the Centre for Global Affairs Malaysia (ICON) president made at a recent forum. Abdul Razak said Malaysians should not flinch from the thought of leaving the country if they must do so to get jobs or to take advantage of other forms of economic opportunities.
Speaking to FMT, Syerleena said the advice served to show how little Abdul Razak knew about the “harsh” realities that Malaysians faced today.
“This suggestion coming from Abdul Razak Baginda – a man who knows a thing or two about moving abroad when the going gets tough – shows how disconnected the elitists are,” she said.
“Not everyone has the financial means to move abroad and neither are most Malaysians as well connected as he is to do so.
“People stay for family reasons too. Is Abdul Razak Baginda suggesting breaking up families and weakening the family institution?”
Syerleena, a DAP representative in the Penang city council, said Malaysia was already suffering from a brain drain and it was uncalled for to advise more Malaysians to search for opportunities overseas.
“A brain drain happens because of reasons such as better opportunities abroad, where the pay is higher and there are more perks, among other things, but to advise Malaysians to pack up and leave is unnecessary and I dare call it treason.”
Syerleena said the brain drain was a serious concern for Pakatan Harapan as it meant more Malaysians who could potentially bring about change were leaving the country.
“The rate of Malaysians moving abroad, either permanently or not, has been a topic of serious discussions and Pakatan Harapan has taken several measures to reverse this.
“Early this year, the Penang government launched the RM20 million Penang Future Foundation scholarship scheme as a way to retain our talents. The scholarship is open to all Malaysians below 25 years old, who must meet the minimum CGPA of 3.0. To qualify, they must also come from a home with an income of not more than RM15,000 per month.
“I personally would not encourage Malaysians to leave. This is our home. Personally, I have too much love for this country not to stay back and push for the reforms Malaysians need.”
When he spoke last Thursday, Abdul Razak also said a brain drain from Malaysia could be good for the nation because it would remind the government of opportunities it had lost.
Syerleena, however, said she believed that the Barisan Nasional government, unlike Pakatan Harapan, didn’t care much about the “staggering” numbers of Malaysians leaving the country.
“This can only be advantageous for their political lifeline. If they were genuinely concerned, surely certain issues such as corruption, cronyism and the quota system would be addressed diligently. Most certainly, by now we would have seen concrete, strategic measures to stop the brain drain.
“One of the only ways to teach this government a lesson is to change the government and vote in those who can do a better job.”
Klang MP Charles Santiago, also a DAP member, said he agreed that a brain drain should generally not be encouraged, but he added that it was tempting for Malaysians to leave for better opportunities.
“No country would like its citizens to work in another country, but in a global market environment there are many inclinations to be mobile,” he told FMT.
He also said there were still ways those who had left the country could help Malaysia.
“The more successful ones could bring their expertise back to help the local economy or bring back capital to invest in the country,” he said.