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Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 7th February 2010: 


How can Najib inspire confidence in Malaysia 2.0 new economic model when he has done nothing in past ten months to stop brain drain or achieve brain gain

When he became Prime Minister in early April last year, one of the first things Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced was a new economic model for the country to ensure Malaysia make a quantum leap to escape the middle-income trap to become a high-income country.

At first, this new economic model of Malaysia.2 was to be announced by the second half of last year, then delayed to January of the new year and now to the first quarter of the year.

In actual fact, the World Bank had recommended that Malaysia adopt a new economic model three years ago, stressing that industrial countries are already aiming for economic model 3.0, and with competition at economic model 1.0 intensifying, striving to achieve economic model 2.0 is not an option for Malaysia but a necessity.

The question is why the World Bank’s advice that Malaysia migrate to a new economic model 2.0 was ignored for three years, losing more precious time for Malaysia to catch up in the international competitiveness race when the country had become a straggler as compared to other countries.

When the country achieved nationhood in 1957, Malaysia was the second most economically-advanced country in Asia after Japan.

Today, South Korea’s GDP per capita is US$16,450, Singapore US$34,346, Hong Kong US$29,559 while Malaysia is still at US$7,469 – with the disparity between Malaysia and these countries set to become wider in the coming years and even risking of being overtaken by countries like Thailand, Vietnam and even Indonesia!

It is pertinent to ask how Najib could inspire confidence in the Malaysia 2.0 new economic model when he has done nothing in the past ten years to stop the brain drain of Malaysia’s talents abroad or to achieve brain gain.

One of the specific proposals made by the World Bank three years ago for Malaysia to migrate to a new economic model Malaysia 2.0 was: “Engaging and attracting back talented, experienced, wealthy and well-connected members of Malaysian diaspora”.

If Najib is incapable of checking Malaysia’s braindrain which had led to the emigration of two generations of the best and brightest overseas as to create a two-million-strong Malaysian diaspora in the world, how can the Prime Minister succeed in achieving “brain gain” or to reverse “brain drain” from the Malaysian diaspora?

I still remember the ambitious “brain gain” programme of the Eighth Malaysia Plan ten years ago to “reverse brain drain” to transform Malaysia into a K-economy and Information Society through a two-pronged strategy, viz:

  • An annual “brain gain” of 5,000 “extraordinary world citizens of extraordinary talent” to “lure the best brains regardless of race or nationality, from Bangalore to California”; and

  • Encourage 500 skilled Malaysians overseas every year to return home with their expertise from 2001.

This ambitious “brain gain” programme was an unmitigated failure – with Malaysia losing even more talents in the past decade.

Malaysia is not short of proposals for a new economic model Malaysia 2.0 but what is sorely lacking is the political will to implement them.

How can Najib ensure that the new economic model of Malaysia 2.0 to be announced by him will not fail because of the lack of political will to carry out far-reaching government transformation programmes including restoring national and international confidence in the system of governance in Malaysia?

This is why Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy 2 trial is not a good harbinger for Najib’s Malaysia 2.0 new economic model.

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



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