‘Make country inclusive so M’sians will return’

KUCHING: Issues of equality, equity, non-discrimination, and freedom of expression must be addressed to create an inclusive society before Malaysians overseas can be convinced to return to rebuild the nation, said Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang.

In a statement yesterday, Lo stressed that laws, policies, practices, programmes, and actions that have an impact on diversity in Malaysia need to be addressed as they are significant barriers to progress and development.

While commending Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s call for overseas Malaysians to return and contribute to Malaysia, Lo said serious commitment is required from the government to ensure equal opportunities and treatment to prevent brain drain.

Despite a fat pay cheque, the cost of living overseas is much higher compared to Malaysia, but then again, we must recognise that it is not as low anymore these days.

Many graduates choose to remain overseas notably for the good education system, better healthcare, as well as pension and social welfare schemes offered by their adoptive countries, he said in the press statement.

Whereas in Malaysia, others could face challenges of being treated unfairly, excluded, and lack of opportunities unless you are a Bumiputera.

It is a known fact that a non-Bumiputera student with excellent results may not secure a place in local universities, and that

being too vocal or giving harsh criticisms against the government could land people in serious trouble.

Lo said if Dr Mahathir is serious about preventing serious brain drain in Malaysia, an equal, diverse, and inclusive plan is needed to create a climate that embraces differences and allows full participation of a multicultural society that goes beyond race, ethnicity, gender, and religion.

He said among the barriers that should be removed or policies improved are local university admission, removing special privileges accorded to one race, government subsidised housing for all who qualify regardless of race, equal employment opportunities, good pension scheme, and a strong support system.

An important issue that should be considered is the freedom to express one’s views without being incarcerated. It is the fear of getting a black eye that sends well-educated, talented, and capable Malaysians scuttling all over the globe, he said.

The Padawan Municipal Council chairman pointed out many Chinese parents sacrifice much to give their children the best possible education.

The many students, especially non-Muslims, who studied overseas were able to do so not because Malaysia gave them the chance to do so or that they could afford it, but because they had no choice when no university in Malaysia would take them no matter how good their results were. Chinese parents would sell off their properties, work twice harder, and save to be able to send children off to universities overseas, he said.

And now, Dr Mahathir is asking overseas talents and professionals to come back, saying that they owe it to the government and it is time to ‘give back’?

Lo stressed the New Economic Policy (NEP) implemented during Dr Mahathir’s first 22-year stint as prime minister is regarded by many as unsuitable to this day.

There are many capable Bumiputeras who work hard and are smart enough to make it on their own.

Why use the NEP as a crutch to encourage our ‘sons and daughters of the soil’ to sit back because they know they can always expect handouts and bailouts? he asked.

Surely, this is not what good parenting is about.

The government should help and support its citizens according to their needs and not according to race. There are poor people everywhere but they are not all Bumiputeras, he added.

On Dr Mahathir’s response towards implementing meritocracy in government, Lo said the top post should always go to the best person with excellent leadership.

Good governance with greater transparency and fairness, abolishing NEP and special privileges for certain groups, and ensuring equal opportunities, and treatment for all races are among the actions needed in the hopes to persuade overseas Malaysian professionals to return, he suggested.

Otherwise, who would want to return to a country where top posts are reserved according to Bumiputera status.

I hope that Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) manifesto is not just a ‘feel good’ manifesto and that our Prime Minister will sincerely do good for all races as promised.