MM Lee says Singapore facing brain drain problem

Julia Ng
Channel NewsAsia
14 Feb 08 

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has said Singapore is facing a ‘pretty serious’ brain drain problem.

In an interview with the United Press International (UPI), Mr Lee said Singapore is losing about 4 to 5 percent of the top 30 percent of its population every year.

More people are going abroad for their degree courses.

The problem is, increasingly, more Singaporeans are staying on in countries like the United States.

Mr Lee said every year, some 1,000 people at the top end are giving up their citizenship. And he believes the numbers are growing.

But Singapore is making up for the brain drain by getting bright Chinese and Indians into Singapore. They are attracted by better prospects here.

But the trouble is, many of the Chinese then use Singapore as a stepping stone to go to America where “the grass is greener”.

Still, Mr Lee said, Singapore will make a net gain of talents – even if it only manages to keep 30 to 40 percent of them.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Washington-based news agency, Mr Lee was also asked about US politics, including his assessment of the US presidential candidates.

The interview also touched on geo-political issues such as US engagement in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Click here for the transcript of Mr Lee’s interview.

Transcrpt of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s Interview with Arnaud de Borchgrave of UPI on 2 February 2008 at Istana

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