Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said on Monday that meritocracy has served Singapore well and there was no real alternative to it.
Speaking at the Singapore Perspectives forum, organised by the Institute of Policy Studies, he said the Government nevertheless understood concerns that unfettered meritocracy might undermine fairness and breed inequality.
"The challenge for us is to improve our system of meritocracy," he said.
He warned against two forms of negative meritocracy that Singapore ought to avoid.
One, an excessively competitive one in which individuals sought to advance their own interests even at the expense of others. Two, one with a "closed group of winners" in which advantages are ascribed by birth.
"What we want is to shape a system of meritocracy in Singapore that works for the benefit of all, and is consistent with our ideals for a fair and just society," he said.