Thursday, 16 October 2008

Meritocracy in Indonesia

Setting aside the obvious problems of corruption, collusion, nepotism along with the sheer practical difficulties of actually putting into place a system that rewards talent and competence in a nation spanning 17,000 islands with a population of over 200 million people, Indonesia by its very nature as a democracy, is not a meritocracy. Consider the office of President, arguably the most important position in a republic. Citizens are not required to vote for the office based on demonstrated ability, but may choose a candidate based on religion, creed or even his good-looks. Politicians are not required to have any executive brilliance or strategic foresight to attain the office of chief executive; but simply the charisma to dazzle the hoi polloi. Combine this with the reality that the votes of those who own property and contribute to the economy are equal to those who are landless and receive welfare and the result is that the votes of the wise and the stupid count the same, allowing politicians to pander to the lowest common denominator in elections. This obviously prevents the most talented and capable of candidates from ever becoming chief executive, and results in an Obama or Megawati facing off against a Vladimir Putin or Hu Jintao, both culled from actual meritocratic systems. Thus, because of its very nature as a liberal democracy, Indonesia is not a true meritocracy.

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