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Cabinet tomorrow must rise above its “half-past six” stigma and boldly address the adverse consequences of the “fire and brimstone” Umno general assemblies last month triggering a new exodus of emigration of Malaysian talents, both Malay and non-Malay
(Parliament, Tuesday) : The Cabinet tomorrow must rise above its “half-past six” stigma and boldly address the adverse consequences of the “fire and brimstone” Umno general assemblies last month triggering a new exodus of emigration of Malaysian talents, both Malay and non-Malay.
I had warned immediately after the Umno general assemblies last month that a new exodus of emigration of Malaysian talents, both Malay and non-Malay, would be triggered by the rise of racial extremism and religious intolerance like the “fire and brimstone” Umno assemblies with keris-wielding and May 13 threats of bloodshed, amok and riots, with the biggest casualties being Malaysia’s global competitiveness, the success of the Visit Malaysia Year 2007 and the 50th Merdeka Day celebrations.
This was why immediately after the Umno general assemblies, I had introduced an emergency motion in Parliament on November 21, 2006 to debate the “fire and brimstone” Umno general assemblies, which I had described as “a most serious blot on Malaysian nation-building for over three decades” for three reasons:
Unfortunately, my motion was not allowed. My worst fears have now come to pass. New Sunday Times has reported a 2,000 per cent jump in inquries about emigration by Malaysians in the week of the “fire and brimstone” Umno general assemblies.
Reporting that Malaysians are “More now than ever before. And they are selling their properties and their cars”, it quoted a migration agent in Kuala Lumpur as saying that from an average of between 15 and 20 inquiries for migration a day, the phones have been “ringing non-stop” for the past two weeks.
For the week between Nov. 14 and Nov. 19 (the week of the “fire and brimstone” Umno general assemblies), there were about 6,500 enquiries for migration to Australia, 5,500 enquiries for New Zealand, 4,000 for Canada, about 3,500 enquiries for other countries, including Norway and Switzerland.
This works out to a total of 19,500 inquiries or 3,250 inquries a day for the six-day period – or some 2,000 per cent jump.
The callers were of all races — Malays, Indians, Chinese and others.
The first exodus of Malaysian professionals overseas occurred in the seventies, and there is an estimate that Malaysia lost close to a million talented Malaysians to foreign countries in the past three decades.
Although Barisan Nasional leaders at that time dismissed the exodus of Malaysian professional overseas as “Good riddance to bad rubbish”, Malaysia paid a very heavy price – as undoubtedly, it was a major cause why Malaysia failed to reach the potential of our national economic and social development, allowing other countries like Taiwan and South Korea to overtake us although Malaysia was ahead of them economically in the first decade of our independence.
The question now is whether with the dire possibility of a new exodus of Malaysian talents and professionals overseas because of the recent spate of negative, retrogressive and divisive developments, with Malaysians agonizing over whether they and their children have a future in the country, the Cabinet is going to adopt the ostrich-like attitude in the seventies and eighties of “Good riddance to bad rubbish” or it will take pro-active steps to forestall a new brain-drain in the 21st century.
The Cabinet has been described by the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as a “half-past six” Cabinet.
This is one issue the Cabinet can prove Mahathir wrong by demonstrating that it has the leadership and vision to break out of the denial syndrome and culture of impunity which is triggering a new exodus of emigration of Malaysian talents, and to map out a strategy to stop the exodus – which will have the most damaging consequences to the country’s future, as human capital and brain power hold the key to a nation’s progress and prosperity in this era of information and communications technology, globalization and liberalization.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman