New mechanism needed to woo OV intellectuals

The overseas Vietnamese (OV) community and Vietnamese intellectuals abroad in particular are regarded as an important resource for the country’s national development and modernisation.
The overseas Vietnamese (OV) community and Vietnamese intellectuals abroad in particular are regarded as an important resource for the country’s national development and modernisation.

However, experts said, Vietnam needs to adopt a special, breakthrough mechanism if it wants to attract more of this resource.

OV intellectuals – a huge resource

According to the State Committee for OVs, the number of intellectuals overseas now exceeds 300,000, mainly living in developed countries such as the US, France, Australia and Canada. Of them, more than 10,000 people are working in Silicon Valley – a national scientific and technological centre in the US.

OV intellectuals have worked in almost every field, including spearhead technological sectors such as electronics, biology, new materials, IT, aviation and space technology.

Many scientists, who are also entrepreneurs, have accumulated numerous technological, management and production experiences. They can make great contributions to the country through the transfer of knowledge and technologies, consultancy, assessment, information sharing, scientific cooperation, and seeking funding and markets for products and research projects.

However, the number of OVs returning to Vietnam to work remains modest. Statistics show that only around 200 OV intellectuals each year come back to the homeland to join in research projects and scientific seminars or give lectures at universities.

Shortcomings in policy

Many OV intellectuals said Vietnam’s failure to map out specific policies and establish close links between scientists abroad and at home is the biggest hurdle in calling for OV intellectuals to contribute to the nation.

Dr. Tran Ha Anh, Head of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Overseas Vietnamese Club for Science and Technology, said since its inception four years ago, the club has received few proposals for the engagement of OV scientists from domestic agencies, organisations and businesses.

A number of OVs suggested that Vietnam issue an equal policy that does not discriminate against OV intellectuals and officials at home.

Dr. Nguyen Chanh Khe, an American of Vietnamese origin, said Vietnam should permit OVs to register state-level scientific research projects instead of allowing only domestic scientists at present.

Meanwhile, Dr. Vo Toan Chung, who is French and of Vietnamese origin, proposed the State create a legal foundation and policy mechanism to encourage OVs return home to work.

Vietnam should also permit OV intellectuals to participate in its scientific councils, instruct Vietnamese postgraduates and join in working out national development strategies through authorised agencies, Chung added.

Establishing a mechanism to attract OV intellectuals

Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Le Dinh Tien said his ministry and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs have drawn up a project aimed at building policies and measures to encourage OV experts and intellectuals to contribute to the country’s national construction cause.

The project, which was submitted to the Prime Minister for approval, lays out a wide range of incentives to appeal to OV experts, support and encourage the flow of investment by OVs in technological application and transfer, and promote the teaching of the Vietnamese language and culture to young OVs.

At the first conference of OVs held in November in 2009, Tien put forth the building of a database on OV intellectuals as well as preferential treatment, salary and working conditions for OVs who return to serve the home country./.

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