LAST_UPDATESun, 24 Jun 2018 3pm

M'sian Scientist Who Stunned The World With Superbug Discovery Was Once Rejected For JPA Scholarship

27-year-old Dr Lam Shu Jie first fell on our radar September last year when she and her team of researchers potentially found a solution to the antibiotic-resistant bacteria commonly known as ‘superbugs’.

Now Dr Lam’s name surfaced yet again, following a Facebook posting posted by a concerned citizen lamenting how Malaysia has lost yet another talent to foreign countries that went viral recently.

“She was one of the best students in SPM but failed to get our government JPA scholarship to continue her undergraduate degree,” the posting read.

But despite failing to achieve a JPA scholarship, it didn’t hinder the Johor-native lass from completing her degree in Australia and from then on, her future grew brighter!

“With her excellent results from Melbourne University, she got the scholarship from the Australian government to further her postgraduate master degree.

“In addition, with a sponsorship and funds for her research, her excellent research dissertation was noted even during the first year of her PhD study,” the posting further explained.

Dr. Lam Shu Jie's FacebookDr. Lam Shu Jie's Facebook

However the icing on the cake had to be the stupendous recognition that she deserved and earned with her breakthrough research in the cure for the superbug infection whilst in Melbourne University.

Not only is she recognised by the Australian government, but China recently took note of her monumental contribution to the medical industry and was subsequently awarded with the prestigious ‘Young Overseas Chinese Award’ in Beijing.

“Currently, China, Australia and Singapore government and Universities are fighting to recruit her at their research centre respectively,” the posting revealed.

“Many believe her quality research work will have massive global impact. She has the potential to win a Nobel Prize in future!

“I wonder why Malaysia isn’t doing anything to rope her back?”

With over a thousand shares, this opened the flood gates of negative comments as majority of netizens recounted how the likes of Cassandra Hsui, James Wan, Lim Jia Yi all sought opportunities overseas – leaving Malaysia with a pool of average Joe’s and Jane’s.

But let’s take a step back and ask ourselves: is it such a horrendous fate if Malaysians make a name for themselves in a foreign land?

Malaysian Digest spoke with 23-year-old Siti who currently works as a nutritionist in Perth, Australia and shared that there’s always more to the story than simply deeming that Malaysia’s lack of development and opportunities as the reason why most talent went abroad.

“Before I graduated, I’ve made my intention clear to at least accumulate a few years of experience working in Australia as I believe the experience will benefit me when I return to Malaysia,” she pointed out whilst jokingly added that it will also make her resume look good.

“But I also told myself that if I fail to secure a job by the time my visa expires, then I will return home and try my luck there – as a matter of fact, I also applied for jobs in Malaysia, while I was still in Australia.”

Sharing that she grabbed the opportunity to work in Australia as soon as it presented itself, Siti stressed how being employed in a foreign land does not make you any less Malaysian.

“I think the common misconception that people have is thinking that once we’re employed overseas, we’ll forget that Malaysia is our home; that’s not true.

“Malaysia will always be home to me and regardless where I work, I do plan on coming back to Malaysia one day and share my knowledge with future nutritionist,” she highlighted.

Acknowledging that Malaysia is still a developing country, Siti urged the younger generations to look at the bigger picture and seek opportunity elsewhere to help pave the way to create more opportunities for future generations.

“Look at it this way; why can’t we gain as much knowledge and experience as we can overseas, and once we’ve mastered our trait, come home and do our bit to help develop the nation?,” she asked.

“I’m not saying that every Malaysian who works overseas has this mindset. But before you write us off for choosing to work in a foreign land, please delay judgment and remember that a coin has two sides.”

Pic: Malay MailPic: Malay Mail

As a matter of fact, the Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has expressed similar sentiments as he highlighted that, Malaysians working around the world should be acknowledged as "our assets and global networks to link up with.

“We should look at Malaysians abroad as beachheads or as individuals who can assist in getting more Malaysians abroad. I would love to see more Malaysians working in Facebook, Google and Tesla because it adds value to the country,” quoted in theSun.

The minister explained that he wants to celebrate these individuals who are “part of a Malaysian diaspora” who made a name for themselves overseas because they wish to help contribute back to the country – similarly to what India is doing.

“Do not look at it as a liability but as an asset for the country,” he added.

So Malaysians, let us not penalise Malaysians who are working abroad for their decision; instead ask ourselves, how can we contribute back to the nation?

As John F. Kennedy once said in his inaugural address in 1961, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

- Malaysian Digest