KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s private sector will shrink in size, the government will collect lower tax revenues and the number of professionals will be reduced, analysts say, if more Chinese Malaysians continue to emigrate.
They were responding to a report by Malaysian think-tank Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) that said the Chinese Malaysian population would drop to about 19.6 per cent by 2030 with the continued emigration trend and low birth rates, according to The Malay Mail Online (MMO) yesterday.
Asli chief operating officer Ng Yeen Seen said the Chinese Malaysian population stood at 37.2 per cent in 1957, when the country achieved independence.
This shrank to 24 per cent four years ago due to many leaving the country and low birth rates among the Chinese.
“If the migration trend continues to 2030, Chinese Malaysians would account for only 19.6 per cent of the population,” Ms Ng predicted, as reported by the Free Malaysia Today website on Saturday.
She cited a 2011 World Bank study that showed that up till 2010, almost one million Chinese Malaysians had migrated to other countries, with 57 per cent of them moving to Singapore.
“The Chinese community is known to be very enterprising and economically vibrant.
“The community has been important to the nation’s development.
“It is a worrying trend for the country,” independent analyst Khoo Kay Peng told MMO.
Dr Oh Ei Sun, adjunct senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said the calls for more Islamic law and practices by the majority Malays into “all aspects of social life” would likely be a push factor.
“Besides likely decline in their political rights, the professional human resources of the whole country would similarly be decimated,” Dr Oh told MMO.
Official government statistics are slightly different from the Asli figures.
The Department of Statistics estimated that the Chinese population in Malaysia would drop to 20 per cent by 2040 from 24.5 per cent in 2010.
It also said the bumiputera population – which refers to the Malays, Orang Asli and the ethnic tribes of Sabah and Sarawak – is expected to grow from 67.3 per cent to 72.1 per cent between 2010 and 2040.
Malaysia’s Centre for Policy Initiatives director Lim Teck Ghee noted the higher fertility rates of Malay Malaysians and the influx of Muslim immigrants who are given citizenship.
Most Muslim migrant workers are from Indonesia and southern Philippines.
Mr Ibrahim Suffian, director of independent pollster Merdeka Centre, said the minorities ultimately need to figure out how to work with the majority population.
“Muslims in Malaysia are not monolithic; They subscribe to many different political ideas,” Mr Ibrahim told MMO.
“Muslims need to realise that non-Muslims are their fellow countrymen with whom they have a shared stake in the country’s continued peace and prosperity.”