What Sabri’s 2020 census bumi figure doesn’t tell

The recently announced results of the 2020 census require clarification and elaboration in two areas. The first is in the announcement by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob that the bumiputra population has increased to 69.4% from 67.4% in 2010.

Sabri did not break down the statistic to show the percentage of the Malay population and the non-Malay bumiputra population which is largely made up of ethnic East Malaysians, many of whom are Christians. Neither did he reveal if the increase in the bumiputra population was general or uneven between the two bumiputra groups.

Giving such details will provide a truthful picture of population trends in Malaysia. Beruas MP Ngeh Koo Ham said yesterday as reported in Malaysiakini that the detailed numbers for each ethnic group should be disclosed as it was important for the implementation of government policies.

“The various native groups in Sabah and Sarawak should be classified separately as their needs are different from the Malays in Peninsular Malaysia,” Ngeh said in the report.

“The Malays in the peninsula would like to see sufficient funds allocated for matters related to Islam as they are Muslims. However, the majority of the natives of Sabah and Sarawak are non-Muslims and they would like a fair and proportionate amount of funds to be allocated to matters related to their religious faiths.”

In presenting the details of the 2020 census, Sabri also said that the bumiputeras make up the highest percentage with 69.4 percent, followed by the Chinese (23.2 percent), the Indians (6.7 percent), and others (0.7 percent).

The 2020 census also showed that Malaysia’s population has increased to 32.4 million people, compared to 28.3 million in 2010.

Ngeh also questioned if the 2.6 million non-Malaysians in the country, as stated by the 2020 census, and which he said make up 8.3 percent of the population, was considered as bumiputra. If the “others” category comprises 0.7 percent, how are the 2.6 million non-Malaysians (or 8.3 percent) accounted for?

“If the ethnic group’s composition stated by the premier includes the whole 32.4 million people, then almost all the 2.7 million foreigners are classified as bumiputera, which is clearly unacceptable,” he said.

Ngeh wanted a clarification from the Prime Minister who at that time was on an official visit to Brunei and we are yet to hear of a response from him.

These data that Ngeh wanted clarified are important for the public to know but the PM doesn’t seem too interested in giving the correct picture or is taking his time about it while we are still waiting to know.

Other statistics that are of concern and which have a direct bearing on the current political situation are the rural and urban population figures. The urban population has risen from 70.9 percent in 2010 to 75.1 in 2020 and the rural population has dropped from 29.1 percent in 2010 to 24.9 percent in 2020.

These figures suggest that in both 2010 and now the Malaysian population is urban rather than rural. If this is the case, why are there more rural parliamentary constituencies than urban ones?

This would explain why there are more MPs representing the rural areas than the urban areas and why they can form a majority representing bumiputras but this representation may be a minority and not a majority as they claim to be and why this minority is conservatively rooted in rural ways.

Such a delineation of parliamentary constituencies may have been necessary before the urban migration of rural folks but they no longer apply if the majority of the rural folks have now become urban. Delineating parliamentary constituencies may be necessary now to give the majority of the population in the urban areas more say.

These are issues that a federal government must address but we are yet to see the kind of leadership necessary to get such jobs done at the helm of the Malaysian government in the past two years.

When parliamentary constituencies are delineated to give more representation to the majority urban population, the conservative minority will be unable to dictate politics.

It is extremely urgent that a responsible and competent government that represents the majority is installed which accommodates and serves Malaysia’s changing landscape.


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