Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why Woo When You Can Wow Me (on retaining talents)

PM is working hard to woo Malaysians back from across the horizon. Of course to do this, as with any other initiatives by the Malaysian government, there is a need to actually set up a whole corporation/body/task force/working committee/agency/club/coffee shop/mobile clinic/booth etc.

In this case it’s the Talent Corporation set to be up and running by next year. Their main objective is basically to woo professionals from abroad. The corporation would engage these lucky chaps who managed to secure a career (I’m guessing prosperous careers) in a foreign land, seeking them out and addressing their concerns. We will be begging them to return to this beloved country, that’s the gist of it.

All is well and good there. However, apart from sentimental values and nasi lemak, what other reasons could there be for them to consider returning here permanently?

I’m happy to be in Malaysia, to work in Malaysia and be a part of Malaysia. I see this country as having a lot of potential and I feel no real burden living in this country. Sure cars are ridiculously expensive and I’m stuck with a run-down Waja that has “v-tech” sticker which is impossible to peel out because the guy who owned it before was probably trying to convince himself that it is as good as driving a Camry, house prices makes me noxious and I can only dream of owning a house in the next 7 years (I’m playing Lego a lot more now), the public transport system is the government’s way of promoting fitness and health as opposed to travel convenience and salary prices have been rising dramatically slow for decades despite our rush to be a developed nation by 2020 - developed nation under-developed people.

Not to mention all the racism (a rising concern), politicking, red tape, corruption, half-open market, leadership crisis, the lack of good Nasi Lemak stalls (unlike 10 years ago) and the Ramadhan Bazaar losing its appeal after the 12th day of fasting month. Also, the illogical and yet accepted pricing of Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Mee Goreng (fired noodle) and other Goreng-Goreng (fried-fried) food from breakfast to lunch/dinner - how can Nasi Goreng be worth RM1.50 during breakfast (pre-prepared) and RM3.50 after breakfast (add fried onion to the mix) and no one questioning the rationality?

In any case, I think the government is aiming wrongly in this case. Sure we want talents to come back to Malaysia especially if there are talents out there who might go on to be Jimmy Choo or that Saw movie creator guy who might do some good to our lackluster movie industry. But they have gone on to another country, they are getting higher salaries, they are living the dream perhaps even. Judging from comments in blogs, newspapers, online portals and forums, most of these leavers seem to be happy and not too many regret their decision.

If indeed we are able to woo them back, how many would want to come back? My next question is, what can these woo'ed boys do that those who are already here can’t potentially do? Why not aim to retain those who are still here, those in the university, those young entrepreneurs, engineers, doctors, academicians, etc.

Instead of promising high salaries for these woo'ed boys to come back, giving them benefits and discounts on stuff, give that to us. I’ve never considered moving abroad to work but I do realize that I’m not earning much here - considering my talent for looking busy whilst “at work”. I can’t afford a lot of things, definitely cannot live a life of luxury with my family, can only dream of traveling at the moment, but I’m happily working in Malaysia still.

I say, reward me, reward us.

I can understand those wanting to work abroad and become a resident of other countries. Look at our salary scale and compare them to our neighbor. In 2007, the average household income was only RM3,500 monthly (USD 965, i.e. USD 11,500 yearly) whilst in Singapore, the median household income in 2005 was USD30,000 yearly. I’m not really sure about the difference between “average” and “median” in economic-lingo, but since the numbers are hugely different (considering the year as well) it is disturbing anyway. (Median is the middle right and average is like the middle as well? If I’m wrong correct me please)

Then consider the fact that 45% of expats living in Singapore earns more than S$ 250,000 you would be blind to not see the gold that is raining on our neighbor.

In any case, many those who have left would probably not come back. But there are a lot more talents in this country that may or may not be considering other opportunities abroad. Fix the problems that are here (some already listed above), retain the talents you already have by giving them added benefits, the promise of brilliant career progression, fair and equal treatment and not screw up too much. Now that would be a better initiative.

Again my point is, reward me, reward us.

On that note, why must the government set up a whole corporation just so there could be professionals whose job is to beg other people to come home?

I say, you would be wasting your time. Leave that job to capable NGOs. There are plenty of NGOs who would be willing to do the job if you fund them the right amount. Then you can focus on other more pertinent issues like healthcare, education or Pak Ali’s English.

1 comment:

  1. GREAT POST. I graduated overseas and immediately come back home to work. Working overseas was never an option for me simply because i decided not to. (sort of the hujan emas kind of thing).
    Why are the government focusing on getting the Malaysia who are abroad to come back and serve the country and not focus on improving salary/benefits for us who are already serving them?
    Where the people go and work is a personal choice. Like you said, the people who are working abroad might be there for the money or they might be there for the living condition. But as for us, we CHOSE to stay here and SERVE the country, even though we are paid terribly and company benefits keep on decreasing and we are overworked. We do not adhere to the 8 hour rule instead go back home when the job is done regardless of hour. We do not complain when we are called in during weekends. We are hardworking.
    If only the government and employers see that..