Meritocracy or corruption? | Singapore Informer

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If, Lee Kuan Yew described Singapore’s success in one word – meritocracy – the Philippines’ failure is for the lack of it. We neither practice nor understand meritocracy. That is what is wrong with  the Philippines and it pervades our entire lives whether it is in politics or government or even in ordinary activities. We do not strive for excellence because excellence is shunned and unrewarded. This column is but a small attempt to correct this. We begin by writing how meritocracy developed.

How many of us know for example that the concept of meritocracy originated in China?

The Chinese philosopher Confucius taught that those who govern should do so on the basis of merit, not on inherited status. His teachings led to the creation of the imperial examination in 165 BC. Only those who passed could serve in the bureaucracy.

The Qin and Han dynasties adopted meritocracy to maintain its hold over a large empire. Government positions were not limited to the nobility. Rank was decided by merit based on competitive examinations and education became the key to social mobility.

The Han Dynasty adopted Confucianism as the basis of its political philosophy and structure. It introduced the revolutionary idea to replace of blood with one of virtue and honesty. As a result, appointments were then on made solely on merit. The system led to the growth of a bureaucracy whose officials were bestowed wealth and honor and not on the other way around.

The movement of meritocracy was not from West to East as we often are made to believe. The…

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