Return Intentions of Malaysia’s Diaspora: The Push and Pull Factors

Quah Chun Hoo, Siti Rohaida M. Zainal, Guok Eng Chai


Despite the huge allocation on funds and attention channeled towards solving the brain drain issue by the Malaysian government, this issue is still far from being resolved. Agencies such as Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), Malaysian Development Corporation (MDC) and others have been established to try to lure back our top talents from abroad. MOSTI launched its first brain gain programme in 1995 till 2000, which successfully attracted 94 scientists, of whom only one remains in Malaysia. The second brain gain scheme which was implemented from 2001 to 2004 was intended to attract 5000 talents a year. Unfortunately, only 200 took advantage of the offer. Then, to better coordinate the plan, Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad was established under the Prime Minister’s Department with the objective of wooing foreign talent and overcoming the barriers for them to settle down in Malaysia, among others (Starbizweek, 2011b). Unfortunately, the reception to these initiatives is far from encouraging. Even though the study on brain drain is not new among researchers; in Malaysia, empirical studies on this issue is still limited. Drawing on the push and pull factors identified by previous researchers, this paper attempts to conceptualize which of these factors have the greatest potential of influencing the return intentions of Malaysia’s top talents working abroad. Proposing two propositions, these conceptual papers then analyzes related articles on the facts about brain drain. The implications of this paper are discussed from two perspectives namely are from the company as well as from the country perspectives. In conclusion, this paper manages to highlight the push and the pull factors influencing brain drain phenomenon in Malaysia.

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