Brain drain or Great Opportunity to justify foreign talent

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PM warns of talent loss, leaving no 'central core' to lead S'pore

The PM identified the loss of talent as one of three major challenges facing small, open societies such as Singapore in this era of global talent and information flows.

'To do well, a country needs a core of its ablest citizens, those with both the intellectual and social acumen to play leadership roles in the economy, the administration and the political leadership.

'Without that central core to take the country forward, the society cannot perform to its full potential, and the citizens will suffer,' he said.

But, Mr Lee said, Singapore must accept such talent flows as a reality, draw in foreign talent and encourage its citizens who study and work abroad to return home.
Interesting response to the brain drain problem by PM Lee. The common tactic he uses is to portray his own government as being truly concerned about the people's welfare thus justifying any action that the government takes as having kind intentions. Here, he implies that the people will ultimately be the ones who suffer as a result of brain drain. While this is true, the emphasis shouldn't be on who will suffer since it is a given that us Singaporeans would obviously be the ones who suffer. Rather, the emphasis should be on what kind of a policy to adopt in order to ensure that the harmful effects of a brain drain are mitigated.

PM Lee also says that "Singapore must accept such talent flows as a reality". Is he suggesting that this problem is beyond our control? Is he attempting to absolve himself from all blame for this problem of a brain drain? How can we possibly accept something as a reality? Should we not first try to tackle the root of the problem? By asserting that it is a reality, PM Lee attempts to blind us all to the root causes of this problem, which if I may say, lie within the Singapore government's own policies of treating Singaporeans like second class citizens, a repressive government and a lack of democracy.

He thus suggests a two prong approach to dealing with this problem. Firstly, that we should draw in foreign talent (as if we haven't been drawing in enough already, and as if drawing in foreign talent doesn't just serve to exacerbate the brain drain problem) and secondly, that we should encourage our citizens who study and work abroad to come back home.

The first suggestion of drawing in foreign talent is well, unsustainable as compared to a policy of keeping Singaporeans at home. Simply put, such a policy depends a lot on the economic growth of Singapore. Should Singapore suddenly enter a recession, we would suddenly see the influx of foreign talent dwindle drastically, and if we were to be so reliant on foreign talent, the consequences would be disastrous.

The second suggestion of encouraging our citizens who study and work abroad to come back home is well, too little too late. It's too little because you need to take real measures, such as granting Singaporeans more freedom, ensuring a higher standard of democracy and re-instilling faith in the Singapore government's, in order to truly encourage our citizens to come back. Yet more importantly, it's too late. What's the point of encouraging citizens who have already settled abroad to come back? It makes much more sense to keep citizens who are already in Singapore within our shores.

But what I find most disturbing is that the order of PM Lee's suggestions essentially implied that it was more important to accept more foreign talent than to get Singaporeans to come back. It is baffling that the Singapore government thinks more highly of foreign talent than their very own people who are born and bred within an education system they are themselves responsible for. It is even more baffling that the Singapore government seems to think of our country as a Multi-National Corporation, one where the people are measured by labour hours and the country's economic success is just a GDP. Does it not bother the Singapore government that we are actually a nation with our very own culture after all.