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Once upon a time, in a land not too far away, very nearby actually, funny accented white men and Watahisname San from Japan landed upon this not too far away land. They built factories, brought their machineries and got their material suppliers to set up the same at this new found land. The land… Malaysia.

The economy of Malaysia boomed as these foreigners tapped upon the domestic resources; one of the most important resources being that of the human capital.

Labour was cheap. Cheaper than in Japan or the United Kingdom or Germany or the United States. But cheap does not translate to slavery. It was cheap because the cost of living in Malaysia was cheaper than back home. But the employees were more often than not showered with employment benefits that made working for these foreigners attractive. And of course the foreigners had their ways of looking after the welfare of their employees and their families. Working for these foreigners were sort of a privilege to many. Excellent employer-employee relations were bonded. The Malaysian workforce reciprocated with consistency, loyalty and quality.

Everyone was happy.

That was the earlier years of this new born country called Malaysia. Times were tough and the rakyat understood the meaning of employment. You work, you get paid. You sit on your ass all day, you get the boot. I think this is what some people call “meritocracy”. I can’t confirm this definition because it is very alien to Malaysia today. I tried to google this word but apparently it has been censored by the powers that be.

Then just like all things good, it must come to an end. A whole lot of government bullshit came raining upon Malaysians. Some people need to work for their rice, while some others simply just had to extend their hands. Certain people extended their hands but were told to bugger off – certain preferential requirements not met.

And so, a new generation of Malaysians were created. Some of the population was brought up with the knowledge that they have to earn their dough. Certain others were given wheelchairs and crutches. Apparently, if you are destined, persevere and the man upstairs will feed you.

And then the education system was amended over and over again to make the stupid more stupid and clever closer to the stupid. Somewhat regressive, but stupid people usually don’t question too much. As such, another new generation of good-for-nothing was borne.

And here we are now living among this new generation.

Let us analyse them by separating them into the white and blue collars.

The white collars. Many employers say that this new generation is unemployable. Many educated school leavers (of all levels) are inadequately prepared for the working world. But is it their (lack of) skills? The government seems to think so. But no. I can tell you for one that the government has got it wrong. It is not their skills that we are worried about - that, the employers can train and impart upon them. It is the attitude. Where is the commitment to work? Where is the understanding of putting in effort to attain quality output? Hardwork is a scarcity. Maybe times have changed and granted, the style of work has evolved. But the output of quality and reliability should never be any lesser.

Let’s see how our blue collar jokers fare. Apparently, worse. Hmmm… let me clarify. Worse when compared to the private sector white collar. But public sector white collar vs blue collar, now that is a tough call. Seriously.

Blue collar. Where do we start? Actually we don’t have to. There is nothing to comment upon. There is no Malaysian on the blue collar category. You see, Malaysians cannot toil under the sun and neither can they be seen along the conveyor belt as it is boring. Better just lepak at coffee shops or earn some money from a motorcycle race or 2. Working is just too tough. And standing all day at the supermarket is so tiring. The feet hurt… badly.

And so, we have imported Indonesians, Bangladeshis, Myanmarese and Vietnamese earning their livings at our construction sites, factories, coffee shops, stalls… basically everywhere. Why? They are cheap but that is not necessarily the factor. Of more importance is that they are reliable. At least they turn up for work. They may not be skilled, but they can be taught. These people need money for their families back home. Some are so trusted that they are left to run stalls on their own.

So, if the Mat Sallehs and the Jepuns have to scratch their heads so hard with the unending labour issue in Malaysia to the extent they have to resort to paying work permits, levies and insurances to bring these foreign workers into Malaysia, give me a reason why they should not simply relocate their operations to Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, or Myanmar? After all, they are here for the abundance of labour in the very first place. And hence, the Mat Sallehs and Jappies do exactly what they should logically be doing; pack up and move.

We have lost our competitiveness. Our government has lost sight on what made us attractive in the 1st place. And we aren’t exactly very interesting taxes wise either. In fact, many a time, we are taking the foreigners for a ride when in comes to taxing the ass out of them.

I honestly cannot understand why the government cannot understand the negative Foreign Direct Investment position we are in now. Some say the government does but the ministers are ill advised. But whatever it is, all the government does is to come up with excuses to cover the issue. Face it - we have nothing to offer that benefits the foreigners. Believe it.

There is no point in introducing gimmicks to draw these investors, they are not stupid. You people at the government agencies are. Forget minor tax incentives. Forget expedient work permit approval for expatriates. These will not solve their ultimate operational headache – that we don’t have a good enough labour force for them.

Caveat: There are of course good employees of the new generation. What I am saying is that they are a little off the norm grid! No offense to these good guys – keep it up!

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