19 Feb 2019 02:24:36 PM

Metallurgist’s Ironclad Reason for Returning Home

Dr. Lee Kok Loong returned to Malaysia after 20 years abroad. Here’s his story.

For many professionals who have lived and worked abroad for an extended period of time, the decision to return to their country will never be an easy one to make. 

For Petaling Jaya-born engineer Dr. Lee Kok Loong who had studied and worked in the United Kingdom for 20 years, the decision to return home to Malaysia actually took two years to actualise. 

“The main reason why I decided to come back to Malaysia was to be closer to family, especially my parents,” said the engineer who has a doctorate degree in metallurgy. “In addition, I saw a great opportunity to contribute to the country by bringing back a specialisation which was not commonly available in Malaysia.”
Dr Lee doing his PHD research.

Boy next door

“I was just a regular, playful boy who loved sports, particularly badminton,” said Dr. Lee. 

“As a child, I was a very curious boy who liked to dismantle a lot of my toys and try to put them back together again,” he said, laughing. “Over the years, this interest prompted me to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering via a twinning programme at Sunway College.”

In 1996, Dr. Lee moved to Britain to complete his engineering degree at the University of Leicester. Later, the British Government offered him a scholarship to do his PhD at the same university. He was later recruited by Britain’s largest steel manufacturer, Corus. 

Hard work pays off

Determined to excel in his career as a material testing specialist, Dr. Lee spent a lot of time outside of work learning more about his job. He was also quick to volunteer for additional tasks at his workplace so that he could improve his knowledge about his specialisation. 

“Over the last 15 years, I have been working in the materials testing field,” he said. “I conduct materials testing for the aerospace, oil and gas, marine, power generation and automotive industries. Some of the high-profile clients that I have worked for were Airbus, Boeing, Rolls Royce, Shell, BP and Mercedes.”

In the course of his career in Britain, Dr. Lee also wrote numerous papers and co-authored a book entitled “Structure Property Relations in Nonferrous Metals” with distinguished American academician, Professor Alan Russell. The book describes the relationships between the atomic structure, crystal structure and microstructure of metals and their physical behaviour. 

Dr. Lee’s experience and reputation in the material science field also earned him a place in the 2006-2011 editions of the Who’s Who in Science & Engineering and Who’s Who in the World. 

His most recent achievement was his appointment to the British Standards Institution Committee which offers expert advice in the fields of standardisation, systems assessment as well as product certification. 

“It is a great honour to be part of an expert committee that has developed some of the most widely adopted national and international standards,” Dr. Lee enthused. “Being a member of a standards committee is stimulating and intellectually challenging as it gives me the opportunity to help shape future policy. In addition, it provides an excellent forum to meet other like-minded individuals.”
More needs to be done to encourage them to come back and contribute to the country.
Dr. Lee testing racing car wheels.

Giving back to the community

Dr. Lee returned to Malaysia in January 2016 under TalentCorp’s Returning Expert Programme. He is content to be back in Malaysia and closer to his family but he had to slowly adapt himself to his homeland. 

“After being away for so long, the first thing that I needed to get used to was the hot weather,” he smiled. “Also, I noticed most Malaysians work really long hours and have more than one job.” 

Dr. Lee has moved away from his specialisation of materials testing and is now thriving in his new role as Business Development Director for the KMT Group which has oil palm, pineapple, jackfruit and durian plantations. 

Besides lending his professional expertise to the Malaysian economy, Dr. Lee tries to give back to the community through charity work. 

“Now that I am back here, I have also started volunteering for a local charity group,” he said. “We meet up every month to pack food and give to the less fortunate people. It gives me the chance to give something back to the community.”

Although it took him some time to return to Malaysia, Dr. Lee sincerely feels that Malaysians abroad should think about returning and contributing to the country. However, he urged the government and its agencies to come up with more ways to attract Malaysian professionals to return. 

“We need more Malaysians to come home,” he opined. “The brain drain is difficult to stop because there are not enough incentives to draw Malaysian talents to come home. More needs to be done to encourage them to come back and contribute to the country.”
After working in the United Kingdom for 20 years, Dr. Lee returned to Malaysia under TalentCorp's Returning Expert Programme (REP), an initiative that helps professional Malaysians working abroad return home.

Many Malaysians have returned from abroad under TalentCorp's Returning Expert Programme (REP). To learn more about the REP, visit our website at rep.talentcorp.com.my