INCREASING the population of Chinese Malaysians will not improve the community’s political survival, said analysts.

They felt that a recent suggestion for Chinese Malaysians to adopt polygamy to stop the decline of the community’s population only showed the prevalence of communal politics.

Analysts said as long as policies are ethnic-based rather than needs- or merit-based, Chinese Malaysians will not get more say in politics even if the community’s population increased.

Chinese Malaysians make up about 23% of the country’s population, at 6.66 million people. Experts have predicted that current low birth rate may cause their population in the country to plunge below 20%.

Political analyst Tang Ah Chai said the decrease in the Chinese Malaysian population will affect the community’s political status and Chinese-based political parties.

“If policies are made based on population numbers or skin colour, minority groups are likely to lose out.  

“Our country’s policies, resources are distributed based on population. If a policy is unfair, minority groups will lose out, such as in the civil service or top positions. This is the consequence of communal politics,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

For instance, he said there is almost no Chinese Malaysian vice-chancellor in public universities, but most vice-chancellors in private universities are Chinese Malaysians.

“This shows that it is not that Chinese Malaysians do not have the academic and teaching qualifications to be vice-chancellors, but unfair policies have sidelined them in public universities,” he said.

In Malaysia, he said, it is almost impossible for Chinese Malaysians to hold top positions in the public service.

Another political analyst, Cheah See Kian, said most political parties operate along racial lines.

“(In today’s Malaysian society) once you stray from the topic of race, people will stop listening. If you want everyone to unite in spite of their ethnic differences, Chinese and Indian Malaysians must ask why they don’t have the privileges that (Bumiputeras) have.

“The Malays will say, we are still poor, we need government aid,” he said.

He said a lot of people are not interested in political dialogue unless it concerns them, and that was the problem in Malaysia.

Democracy will guarantee minorities’ interests

Political scientist Wong Chin Huat said the rights of minority groups, including Indian Malaysians and the Orang Asli, have improved over the past 10 years.

“This was not because their populations had increased, but because since 2007, people of different ethnicities have come together to push for democracy (and equality),” he said.

He said it is illogical to think that a higher birth rate will contribute to an ethnic community’s political capital and welfare.

“However much Chinese Malaysians try to increase their population, can they outnumber the foreign Muslims that can easily get citizenships here?”

To protect minority groups’ interests, Wong said the most effective way was for people to participate in politics, vote and protest when necessary, regardless of their skin colour.

Rather than worrying about population ratio among ethnic groups, Wong said it is more practical to use democratic action and civic movements to counter communal politics.