KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 — Former deputy minister of International Trade and Industry (Miti) Ong Kian Ming today said that Talent Corporation Malaysia Bhd (TalentCorp) needs to be empowered to ensure that the agency achieves better results in attracting talent back home.

After criticism over Malaysia’s inability to plug the brain drain, calls for the closure of TalentCorp have been louder than ever.

“Rather than putting all of the blame on TalentCorp, we should instead empower TalentCorp so that it can achieve better results moving forward.

“Shutting down TalentCorp is akin to throwing out the baby with the bathwater and ignoring the productive work which this agency has done (and) carried out since its creation in 2011,” Ong said in a statement this morning.


He further explained the role of TalentCorp, saying it is not responsible for human resource policies, the creation of high-paying jobs, raising the minimum wage, or act as a recruitment or job search agency.

“What TalentCorp is responsible for is increasing the availability of high-skilled human capital in Malaysia.

“This includes bringing back overseas Malaysians who have accumulated skills and experience in certain critical occupation sectors under the Returning Experts Programme (REP),” he said.


He said the Ministry of Human Resources should push for the REP to be given a fresh mandate with enhanced incentives, especially with the increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) and the opportunity to bring home skilled Malaysians with different industry experts.

He said that these incentives may not necessarily be financial but comes in the form of other low-hanging fruit such as expediting permanent residency (PR) applications for spouses and children of returning experts.

“TalentCorp also brings in highly skilled non-Malaysians into the country through the processing of expatriate work visas via their one-stop Malaysia Expatriate Services Centre (MyXpats Centre).

“The efficient processing of these work visas is one of the reasons why Malaysia is an attractive FDI location not just in Southeast Asia but globally in the manufacturing and increasingly, global business service (GBS) sectors,” he said.

Ong said that one of the challenges many MNCs currently face is the requirement to advertise job openings for 30 days in a PERKESO job portal before they can be offered to an expatriate worker.

“Not only is this policy ineffective in ‘protecting’ jobs for Malaysians, but it also fails to recognise that the hiring of expatriates for such positions will often result in the hiring of Malaysians in complementary roles as the operations of the MNC in question expands and grows.

“Over time, many of these expatriates will also be replaced by homegrown talent. Getting rid of such requirements, especially since we are well into our post-Covid recovery, would enable TalentCorp to bring in highly skilled expatriates more efficiently as part of the process to grow the talent base,” he said.

He said TalentCorp’s proposal, which allows Malaysian companies to hire foreign graduates of Malaysian universities in selected sectors via special visas, is an effective solution to reverse the brain drain.

He then praised some of TalentCorp’s initiatives including the Structured Internship Programmes (SIP), internship matching service MyNEXT, and championing flexible work arrangements during the pandemic.

He said that while the work of TalentCorp does not grab headlines in the same manner as news about Malaysian talent thriving in other countries, it brings about incremental change that contributes to Malaysia’s talent landscape.

“Rather than entertain thoughts of shutting down TalentCorp, this agency should be empowered to do more so that its objectives can be better achieved for the betterment of the nation,” he said.

New Straits Times reported that last year, TalentCorp only managed to bring back 5,774 Malaysians through the REP, a 0.33 per cent of the total number of Malaysians who left for other countries.