KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 6, 2014:
Many Malaysians living abroad are not returning home to the country due to the current political climate, a DAP lawmaker said.
Bukit Gelugor Member of Parliament Ramkarpal Singh Deo said with a slew of lawmakers and individuals charged under the Sedition Act, many residing overseas were unsure about returning home.
“Youths are fearful and scared to come out to voice their opinion, out of fear of being persecuted,” Ramkarpal said during a debate with Umno Youth exco member Shahril Hamdan.
The debate, entitled “Malaysia: A Frank Discussion”, was organised by the London King’s College Malaysian Alumni.
Dubbing it the “brain drain” phenomenon, where a sizeable number of young professional Malaysians living abroad were not returning home to spur the nation’s progress further, Ramkarpal said efforts should be taken by the government to ensure their return.
With no opportunities given, he said, it has led to Malaysian youths being unprepared to take control of the political climate in the country.
Ramkarpal went on to slam Talentcorp — a corporation formed in January 2011 to woo talented young Malaysians to return to the country — for only managing to bring home 2,500 countrymen despite being allocated a budget of RM30 million.
Shahril, meanwhile, argued that there were many reasons as to why Malaysians chose not to return home, with some preferring a more liberal setting, and better food and lifestyle choices.
Later, when approached byThe Rakyat Post, Ramkarpal said he was for the National Harmony Bill to replace the 66-year-old Sedition Act.
However, the 38-year-old said with the bill still being drafted, it had not touched on pertinent issues plaguing Malaysians.
“It has yet to address the main issue here, which is freedom of speech.”
Shahril had earlier revealed that he was also for the repeal of the act, with it being replaced by the bill.
In the span of two months, 14 individuals, including activists, lawyers and lawmakers, have been charged under the act, with seven being investigated, including a journalist and a 17-year-old boy.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had on July 11, 2012 promised to abolish the act, which many label as draconian.
On Aug 30, the Prime Minister’s Office, through a press statement, had clarified that the bill was taking a long time because it was being done in consultation with civil society and the public.
A number of recommendations had been received, including from the National Unity Consultative Council, and were currently being studied.
It is set to be drafted at the end of next year.