[SINGAPORE] Renewed efforts to lure home Malaysian scientists currently working overseas were announced by the country's prime minister last week in a fresh attempt to reverse the country's brain drain.
Speaking during a visit to the United Kingdom, Malaysia's prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that the country's losses, in terms of knowledge and money, were considerable, and that attempts by universities in other countries to lure Malaysian students were "tantamount to poaching".
In total, 30,000 Malaysian graduates are thought to work in foreign countries. Some have held scholarships in top universities overseas like those offered by the Public Service Department, but have decided to stay at the end of their studies.
"It costs the government a lot of money to send our students overseas," said former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad last week. "[Those countries] should pay [Malaysia] for having taken away our graduates since, by right, the graduates' training and knowledge should be called intellectual property."
Other scientists have left their country to pursue a research career in well-equipped laboratories abroad.
The country's efforts to regain its scientific talent started in 1995. According to a report in the New Straits Times, however, a scheme introduced that year managed to lure back only 23 scientists.
The current incentive programme, run by the Ministry of Human Resources, has said that a top priority should be the return of Malaysians with expertise in information and communication technology, microelectronics, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, advanced materials, pharmaceuticals, aerospace and energy.