Ibrahim said: “In the thousands of projects for the transformation of society, there should be a clear and systematic requirement to encourage a development culture of utilising local expertise first.
” Many Malaysian professionals are known to be unhappy and frustrated having to work under foreign “experts” who are paid much more than locals, doing the same job, when the truth is many of them fall short of expectations.
In some cases, the local professionals have to teach the foreigners. And that can be very frustrating and humiliating. Malaysia has come a long way from the 1960s as the government has invested heavily in human capital and has produced thousands of professionals in a wide field.
They have proven to be good in their area of expertise and today, local professionals are highly regarded by many countries. Many have gone abroad as consultants, contractors and researchers, where they are recognised as having equal standing with their counterparts.
Recently, I attended a Pemandu/Teraju lab on “English proficiency” and was impressed with the young professionals who were given the heavy task of coming up with the right formula.
They are very business-like, analytical, data-based and excellent in coming up with a very systematic and eye-catching presentation.
It is true when Ibrahim said: “There is a vast human resource and knowledge and skills pool, young and retired, with competencies from basic literacies to the most highly sophisticated areas of human knowledge mastery.From the vast knowledge, expertise and experience resources, there are underutilised human resources.”
The underutilised human resources can be a time bomb if not carefully monitored and nurtured. Imagine a graduate with a master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering from a reputable foreign university is not placed in the right place to tap his/her knowledge and expertise, but left to be underutilised.
Some even end up doing what he/she was not trained to do. There are many such graduates out there who are underutilised due to local prejudice in the preference for foreign “expertise”.
Talent Corp, being a lead agency under the government’s Transformation initiatives, should have a good database of all graduates and, where possible, try to match each graduate’s competency with the right industry.
The agency has the expertise and they can do the job of matchmaking. Malaysians are not without talent. But when they have to compete for a job or project with a foreigner, more often than not, they stand to lose.
While not denying that foreign talent is required in certain areas, it appears that today even in the simplest job, like teaching English, we have to bring in a large number of foreign “native-speakers”.
Some question why we can’t mobilise the large pool of retired teachers of the 1960s; some Kirkby-trained retired teachers would do the job for half of what is paid to native-speakers.
Our country has a big pool of professionals waiting to be discovered and they are ready to serve the nation. If only we can shed the colonial mentality of “hiring” and “firing”. Hasssan Talib, Gombak, Selangor NST Letters to the Editors 19 Jun 2015