Govt urged to choose locals over foreign talent

Kho Teck Wan

KUCHING, July 3: Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) has urged the federal government to reconsider the decision of welcoming more skilled foreigners and offering them Malaysian citizenship.

The party’s women chief Kho Teck Wan said the federal government should consider Malaysians first and not get carried away with “look East” or “look outside” policies.

She was responding to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s recent decision to welcome more foreigners especially those skilled in the IT sector and at the same time, offering them Malaysian citizenship.

“The local IT industry and ecosystem cannot grow and sustain, if the government cannot nurture and recognise the IT talents from within the country.

“There are so many young IT talents in Malaysia, especially in the application development sectors. There is a need to create the IT ecosystems and support the entrepreneurial spirit,” Kho emphasised.

Kho, who herself was an IT professional in the United States before returning to Malaysia under the Talent Corp Programme, cautions that Malaysia must curb the brain-drain effectively and not to become over-reliant on “foreign imports”.

She added, rather than enticing foreigners with citizenship and large pay packages over local talent, it is more important to ensure that knowledge transfer takes place between foreign skilled workers to Malaysian IT professionals.

“It is also time to let our locals assume greater responsibilities, as many of our local talents are just as qualified,” she said.

She also said it is important for the government, who is also the single largest user and buyer of IT products in the country, to be a champion of local IT talent and products, and to always prioritise the support for home-grown over foreign substitutes.

These are essential to develop the local IT industry and in turn, produce more employment and retain talent in Malaysia, Kho added.

“Moving forward, we will also put forward our suggestions for the federal government to have proper policies in place to ensure the IT firms that want to hire foreign professionals must prove that they have tried to hire Malaysians first.

“In the long run, as our universities move up in the world rankings, there is no excuse for us not to be able to grow our talent locally to fill the shortages.

“Furthermore, the government needs to manage the job market to avoid too much competition which will only leave young Malaysian graduates overlooked,” she said. — DayakDaily