No need for quota system, meritocracy is enough

Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz speaking at the Northern Region MNC Women's Leadership Summit in Penang.  — Picture by K.E. Ooi
Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz speaking at the Northern Region MNC Women's Leadership Summit in Penang. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 26 — There is no need for a quota system to ensure equality in the workplace, whether based on gender or ethnicity, as quotas will only limit rather than allow actual inclusiveness, said former international trade and industry minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.

The outspoken veteran politician, who was speaking at the Northern Region MNC Women’s Leadership Summit, said it was time to stop the practise of having a quota system which would only create unnecessary ceilings.

“If you say you want to have a quota of 30 per cent women in a company, does this mean the company can stop at 30 per cent when it could have taken in 40 per cent or more?” she asked.

She pointed out now is the era of inclusiveness where women are included in all aspects of economic and social economic spheres be it in the workplace, organisations or any establishment.

“Inclusiveness is not about being politically correct, having a quota, appeasement of women or about tokenism,” she said.

The AirAsia X chairman said it is all about including women who merit being considered and included, who have the necessary and requisite skills to add value to an organisation.

“Why have 10 women who can’t even do one woman’s job when you can have one woman who can do 10 women’s jobs?” she asked.

She said the nation also had no more need for the system of ethnicity and ethnic-based quotas.

“This is no longer something that we can continue to press on, such as we must have a 30 per cent bumiputra when the times now is different, there are a lot of capable bumiputras who are being hired based on their merits not because they can fill the quota,” she said.

She said this is now a different era from previously, when certain disadvantaged groups needed extra help and pointed out all are equally capable now and can compete based on their own merits.

She emphasised the importance of meritocracy which will ensure inclusiveness regardless of gender or ethnicity.

Though she championed the many policy changes and steps taken to ensure women are included in the workforce and decision-making, she rejected any further need for policies to push for ‘women’s rights’.

“This is ad nauseam. Aren’t we all sick of this ‘women’s right’ talk? ‘Cakap sampai nak muntah’ (repeatedly said till it causes nausea),” she said.

She said it needs to be impressed on the women, and men, that it is not about fighting for women’s rights anymore but for inclusiveness and meritocracy.

“Once I get them (women) to understand this inclusiveness term, there is no need to fight for any rights, because if you, man or woman, merit it, you get it, simple as that,” she said.