Race-based quota employment policies: Can they be justified?

Written by Dr Lim Teck Ghee, CPI 

Since the article “Ethnic dominance in the civil service” first came out, there have been a slew of comments from readers. Most of these comments have been favorable and concur on the need to reform the present situation of Malay over-dominance in the civil service.

There have also been dissenting responses arguing that Malay dominance of the public sector is needed to counterbalance the non-Malay dominance found in the private sector.

Is the strategy of imposing racial quotas to arrive at some balance in the overall society and economy the right one for our country?

In the effort to formulate the right mix of policies that can best address the issue of ethnic disparities in the economy and society, it is important to bear in mind that there is a fundamental difference between public and private sector employment. This difference appears to elude politicians seeking to impose controls and restrictions on the private sector.

Employment in the civil service is paid for by the taxes levied on all racial groups and from the other revenue collected by the government. This sector includes employment in public universities such as the National Defence University where Dr Ridhuan Tee, a recent commentator on my article, is employed – see his article ‘Iktibar Tahun Harimau’ in the Utusan paper last Sunday (Feb 14, 2010).