interesting to compare this with the treatment given to foreigners in indonesia ...

From Associated Press

Malaysia Moves to Attract Talented Foreigners

by Eileen Ng

Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia on Thursday unveiled a slew of incentives to woo skilled foreign workers and pledged to spend $72 billion on economic development and other programs under a new five-year growth plan.

The measures covering 2011 to 2015 announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak in Parliament are aimed at fulfilling the country’s longstanding goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020.

Malaysia’s lack of human capital has often been cited as a key stumbling block, partly due to a brain drain as its controversial affirmative action program for Malays led many citizens to study and work abroad. Also, unlike neighboring Singapore, Malaysia throws up a lot of red tape for hiring high-salaried foreign workers.

“The country is at a critical juncture of its developmental journey and the choice is in our hands, whether to choose the path towards glorious success or the path of decline,” Najib said.

“We are akin to being in the last leg of a relay race. The baton is now in our hands, for us to forge ahead to victory.”

Najib said the government would beef up a decades-old affirmative action program to ensure Malays controlled 30 percent of corporate wealth by 2020, but pledged measures would be market-friendly, transparent and based on merit.

He assured minority Chinese and Indians that they would not be left behind. “I call upon all Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion or political opinion, to work toward building a Malaysia where all talent is valued and optimized,” Najib said.

Malays make up about 60 percent of the country’s 28 million people but control only 19 percent of its corporate wealth, while ethnic Chinese who are a quarter of the population control 40 percent. Indians control only 1.2 percent of the equity, and foreigners hold the rest.

Najib had earlier pledged to roll back the affirmative action plan, which critics say benefits only a few well-connected Malays. But he can ill afford to anger Malays, who form the bedrock of political support for his political party.

The so-called 10th Malaysia Plan foresees the economy growing 6 percent a year until 2015. Growth has averaged 4.2 percent in the past five years, dragged down by a recession last year when the economy shrank 1.7 percent.

Najib said the government was committed to narrowing its budget deficit to below 3 percent of gross domestic product by 2015, from 5.3 percent this year. This includes plans to cut fuel and other subsidies, but he did not say when that would be carried out.

The thrust of the 10th Malaysia plan is on developing human capital by raising education standards, providing higher skills to workers, improving the civil service and attracting top foreign workers. Najib said the government would set up a talent corporation to lure 700,000 Malaysians working abroad back home.

Only 23 percent of Malaysia’s work force is highly skilled. Najib said this number must rise to 37 percent by 2015 if it was to become a developed nation by 2020.

The government will issue open-ended visas to foreign workers earning more than 8,000 ringgit a month and ease restrictions, allowing them to buy cheaper homes costing 250,000 ringgit and above as compared to above 500,000 ringgit at present.

They will also have the flexibility to change jobs. “A skilled and knowledgeable work force is the cutting edge of a nation’s competitiveness,” Najib said.

KuKuKaChu: dangerously too sophisticated