Najib says 100pc meritocracy will breed ‘mediocrity’

By Clara Chooi, The Malaysian Insider

SHAH ALAM: Datuk Seri Najib Razak sought today to justify his administration’s apparent return to affirmative action policies to boost the Bumiputera economy, saying a system based 100 per cent on meritocracy would only breed “a nation of mediocrity”.

The prime minister told a convention here that the government’s “new system” was to use meritocracy among Bumiputeras by identifying and rewarding sincere and deserving Malay businesses while at the same time creating a more competitive environment to enhance the Malay economy.

He said focussing entirely on meritocracy would not be fair to individuals living in rural and suburban areas, claiming they would not be able to compete on a level playing field with those living in urban centres.

“Yes, some have said that the time has arrived that we no longer need affirmative action, some say we can scrap the quota system, we do not need this and that… and that we should practise full meritocracy.

“This is not coming from the non-Malays alone but the Malays themselves, the so-called liberal Malays,” Najib said in his keynote address at the opening of the “Strengthening the New Economic Model — 1 Jihad Bumiputera Economy” convention at Universiti Teknologi Mara here.

“I say that it is true that the non-Malays became rich because of hard work but it is no less important to note that they became rich also because of our country’s stability and a sound administration… because when they needed money, we gave it to them, even from before,” he said.

Najib said Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) should be partly credited for being “considerate” and “fair” to the non-Malays, resulting in an environment that enabled their businesses to thrive.

“But do not now fail to be considerate to the Malays as well… they (non-Malays) should also be fair because Malays are presently at a disadvantage.

“Perhaps they say 40 years (of affirmative action) is enough but a large number of living in rural and suburban areas still need government aid through rewarding policies. So depending solely on meritocracy would be unfair,” he said.