The Brain Drain Cycle in Malaysia: Rethinking Migration, Diaspora and Talent
The ‘brain drain’ refers to the outflow of entrepreneurial skills and talent hindering productivity and, arguably, prospects for economic growth. In Malaysia, the brain drain dilemma has political, economic, social and cultural dimensions. Therefore, this special journal issue offers a range of approaches that, taken together, help sharpen understandings of the contentious brain drain as well as the politics of diaspora and economic migration. Based on evidence from Southeast Asia and other developing regions, this introductory paper contends that the global brain flow is cyclical, with various combinations of drains, leakages, gains, and brain sharing schemes observable at different times in accordance with changing political and economic circumstances. Scholars have long noted that return flows of highly-skilled migrants are sensitive to fluctuations in economic and political conditions, and to the development of well-designed recapture programmes such as those led by Talent Capital Singapore and Talent Corporation Malaysia. The art and science of recapture programmes remains imperfect, although efforts are being made by policymakers throughout Southeast Asia to address both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the brain cycle.