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Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Tuesday, 19th October 2010: 

Top law student at Cambridge University is Malaysian and latest example of costly brain-drain which Najib's 2011 Budget has done nothing to resolve for country to become high-achieving and internationally competitive

Congratulations to Ipoh-born 23-year-old Tan Zhong Shan who has emerged as the top student in his final-year law examinations at Cambridge University.

In a report headlined “Malaysian is top law student at Cambridge University”, the Star today reported that Tan obtained a first-class honours in the Bachelor of Arts (Law) in June this year at Queens’ College, which is part of the university, one of England’s oldest and most prestigious.

The report said:

“He even scored the ‘Slaughter and May’ prize given by the university’s Law Faculty – an award given to those who achieve the best overall performance in the final-year law examinations.

“Other coveted prizes he bagged include The Norton Rose Prize for Commercial Law, the Clifford Chance Prize for European Union Law and the Herbert Smith Prize for Conflict of Laws.

“Queens’ College dean Dr Martin Dixon said Tan definitely stood out among the students there.

“ ‘He is probably the best Malaysian student I have seen in the last 10 years,’ said Dr Dixon, who taught Tan on Land and Equity for two years.

“’He is the most able, dedicated and one of the most likeable students I have taught in more than 20 years at Cambridge.’”

However, Tan is the latest example of the failed Barisan Nasional policies resulting in the costly brain-drain in the past four decades which Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 2011 Budget has done nothing to resolve for the country to become high-achieving and internationally competitive.

This is because Tan is one of Malaysia’s “best and brightest” sons and daughters we have been losing to other countries in tens of thousands every year because of unfair Barisan Nasional education and nation-building policies – whether by directly driving them abroad to pursue secondary, pre-university and university education or pushing their parents to join the migration wave in earlier decades.

This is obvious from the report citing Tan as an ASEAN scholar awarded by the Singapore Ministry of Education after completing his A-levels at the Temasek Junior College in Singapore.

In the 2011 Budget, Najib announced “Intensifying Human Capital Development” as one of the four budget strategies, disclosing that the Government will establish a Talent Corporation in early 2001 “to attract, motivate and retain talent human capital from within the country and abroad”.

Although this is also the emphasis of the New Economic Model to “save” the country from the decades-long middle-income trap and from becoming a bankrupt nation in 2019 and instead to transform Malaysia into a high-income developed nation in 2020, there is nothing in Najib’s 2011 Budget to demonstrate that the government is at last serious and has the political will to address and end this grave problem of brain drain.

What is there in the 2011 Budget to convince Malaysians that the budding Tan Zhong Shans in the schools in Malaysia, who can become top students in the world’s top universities, will not be driven from Malaysian schools and universities to foreign ones by unfair BN policies only to benefit other countries eventually?

The Najibonomics of the 2011 Budget is just a throwback to the old Mahathironomics of mega-projects like the proposal to build a 100-storey RM5 billion Najib Tower rather than to create a new architecture of Malaysian talents fully able to retain and utilize the contributions of the best and brightest of Malaysians – who can compare and compete with their peers in other parts of the world.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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