IN TYPICAL SHORT-TERM THINKING UMNO FASHION, KHALED NORDIN SAYS ‘DON’T DISCOURAGE MALAYSIANS FROM WORKING IN SINGAPORE’ – IN OTHER WORDS, NO NEED TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD – CARRY ON, BRAIN DRAIN!

Don’t discourage Malaysians from working in S’pore, says ex-MB

Khaled Nordin says facilitating cross-border travel with Singapore will help expand Johor’s economy.

PETALING JAYA: Former Johor menteri besar Khaled Nordin has argued against any move to discourage Malaysians from working in Singapore.

Khaled Nordin.

Amid calls for plugging the brain drain from Johor to the republic, Khaled told FMT he saw Singapore’s draw not as a threat but an opportunity for Johoreans to improve their lot and to help the state boost its economy.

“We should be facilitating cross-border travel as this will help Johor’s economy.”

Johor DAP chief Liew Chin Tong recently said businesses in Johor must pay at least two-thirds of what Singapore employers pay to keep Malaysians at home.

Last Monday, Hasni Mohammad, another former Johor menteri besar, called for the formulation of policies to address the brain drain.

He suggested, among other things, efforts to make it easy to do business in Johor and to draw investments that would generate opportunities for high-skilled jobs.

Khaled said there was no short-term fix that would address the disparity in the exchange rate between the Singapore dollar and the ringgit.

“So we should worry less about people going to work in Singapore and focus more on ensuring Johor’s economy is as free, investor friendly and market oriented as possible to unlock the state’s potential as a close neighbour to Singapore,” he said.

“Let us facilitate cross-border travel and let the people decide what is best for them. Once we make cross-border travel seamless through projects like the rapid transit system, Johor will become another economic powerhouse.”

Economist Carmelo Ferlito said Johor should strengthen medical tourism, agriculture and logistics to leverage on its proximity to Singapore.

“The focus must be on making Johor more competitive, especially in these three areas,” he said. “This should be done through free-market-oriented reforms.

“The real challenge, of course, is ensuring a free-market-oriented reformist agenda. Johor can only do so much on its own.”

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