23 April, 2009

8 Values of 1 Malaysia – Part 6: Meritocracy

Like all the previous values of 1Malaysia which I had introduced, Meritocracy must be understood and developed with Malaysia’s social and economic factors in mind. To further understand this value, click here for a video of my thoughts on Meritocracy or read the transcript below.


Basically everybody knows what it means, this principle of meritocracy, but it cannot be applied in the purest sense, because there are times when you have to take into account certain other factors. For example, people who are disadvantaged, or people who live in rural areas, in estates, in new villages who are outside the mainstream of the more dynamic part of society. They would certainly need certain considerations. But by and large, meritocracy is not only a noble principle, but a necessary principle for us to propel Malaysia forward to greater heights. I talked at the outset about the culture of excellence and one of the principles of the culture of excellence is the principle of meritocracy. If you reward people on the basis that they are the best, whether it’s the best man for the job or the best company to get a contract, then people realize that they have to be at that level. They have to perform. Once they realize that they have to perform, that will bring out the best in people I think. So we don’t want Malaysia to underperform as a country. If I look at Malaysia, I want it to punch above its weight, using a boxing term. If you apply this culture of excellence and the principle of meritocracy, I think it would be the necessary ingredient for us to maximize the potential of Malaysia.

On the government’s move towards enhanced meritocracy

It does mean that the various aspects of the government service and the society as a whole should be predicated on this basis of meritocracy. For example, government procurement. You should institute a policy which ensures competitive bidding, because once you have competitive bidding, the chances of you selecting the best company for the job at the lowest price and technically acceptable at the same time are far greater than the basis of negotiated tender, for example. Even the principle of privatization, some of the problems that we have encountered on the basis of privatization in the past, when we had very little knowledge about how to implement privatization, we at the outset, went on the principle of first come first served. So if you have an idea then you’re given that opportunity. But in fact, looking back it’s better for us to have identified certain services or certain areas that we want to privatize and open it up for bidding. Then the best proposal can be considered by the government. So these are some specific examples of how meritocracy can be applied.