Wednesday June 13, 2012
Talent from abroad will raise our standard
THE STAR SAYS . . .
MALAYSIANS, being such diehard fans of the English Premier League, will notice that the composition of Englandís top-flight teams has changed dramatically over the past two decades.
At the start of the 1989-90 season, leading clubs like Arsenal and Manchester United had just one or two first-team players who were born outside Britain.
Now, Premier League teams have so many foreign-born stars, with names that we can hardly pronounce, that the EPL might be more accurately referred to as the International Premier League.
But this editorial is not about football. It is about talent.
If we aspire to be a developed nation by 2020, we need to encourage the flow of talent in and out of the country.
It is no longer about the brain drain, when our best and brightest head for distant shores.
Our policies must be such that we will not only halt the brain drain, but be a powerful magnet to bring the best talent in.
The Dewan Rakyat is currently debating the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill 2012, which will enable foreign law firms to set up base and practise in Malaysia.
This is part of the global liberalisation agenda and although Malaysian lawyers are not particularly eager to welcome their brethren from other countries, the doors need to be opened to boost the countryís competitiveness and signal its readiness to compete with international players.
Malaysian law firms also know that there are opportunities out there and the more enlightened ones have already set up offices in Britain and China.
This is what the free flow of talent is all about.
And we need to welcome talent in all spheres, and not just selected ones.
At the recent Invest Malaysia forum, for example, foreign professionals complained that although they have been in the country for more than five years, they are not able to gain permanent residence (PR) or citizenship in Malaysia.
Agencies, like the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida), are doing a good job bringing in foreign direct investment while our big investment banks regularly go on roadshows to draw in capital into the stock market.
But bringing in the right people also matters.
Foreign talent of the right calibre, like the talented foreigners in the EPL clubs, are key to boosting the nationís economy.
To be a high-income economy, we must pay more attention to attract talents at the higher levels.
Ironically, cheap foreign workers enter our country with amazing ease.
We need to be flexible in granting a longer stay in Malaysia for real foreign talent, as well as have a more transparent and almost automatic mechanism to assess their applications favourably.
And for real talent, be they returning Malaysians or foreigners, to flourish and drive this country forward, the red tape must go.