Meritocracy: Affirmative actions necessary but need not be race-based – Anwar

Meritocracy: Affirmative actions necessary but need not be race-based – Anwar

SAN FRANCISCO: Affirmative actions are necessary for the poor and marginalised to get equal opportunity, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today.

He said one cannot have absolute meritocracy when there is no fairness.

“There are some schools in Malaysia, the urban schools, that have the best facilities, competing with some remote schools in the heartlands, rural heartland.

“Hence, there needs to be some form of additional systems.

“You can call it affirmative actions or you can call it additional support. But you cannot have pure meritocracy without providing basic fair opportunities,” he said during a question-and-answer session at the University of California, Berkeley here Tuesday.

Professor and Alan P. Bedford Endowed Chair, Political Science Director, Berkeley APEC Study Center, Dr Vinod Aggarwal was the moderator of the one-hour question and answer session.

For this reason, Anwar, who is also the Finance Minister said effective programmes need to be continued as it also helps to eradicate poverty.

“It will allow the marginalised and the poor community to be able to come up and compete,” he said.

However, Anwar said such actions need not be race-based.

“You can be a Malay, Chinese or Indian, but if you’re poor, we deal with you as the issue of poverty is not race-based, but a need-based issue,” said the Prime Minister, who had earlier delivered a special lecture entitled “Super Power Rivalry and Rising Tensions in the Asia Pacific at the university.

On the question of brain drain, Anwar, who is here for the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting, said as opposed to the traditional view that students must come back once they graduated from overseas, be it with a Bachelor’s degree, Masters’ or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), they can actually stay abroad and work to gain some experience first.

“Let them have the initial exposure, especially if private companies, private enterprises or startups want to employ them, especially here in the San Francisco Bay area or New York,” he said.

It is to be noted that the San Francisco Bay Area is home to many of the biggest Fortune 500 companies in the world such as Tesla, Uber, Salesforce, Pixar, Netflix, Lucasfilm Ltd, Levi Strauss, and some of the most innovative firms in AI development, biotech, software, clean technology, and social media.

“That exposure will also benefit the country when they come back.

“But, let me say this too, if you decide to work here, please send more funds to your parents,” the Prime Minister said in jest, drawing laughter from more than 250 students present.

On a serious note, Anwar reiterated that the government is looking into ways to attract skilled Malaysians overseas to return home and contribute to the country.–Bernama


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