Most Malaysian may not care much about the racial composition of our population but it has always loomed large in the lives and thoughts of our top leadership. In Malaysia politics, race and religion - or should that now be religion and race? Have always been crucial hence the cencus was and is what matters for elections.
At independence, the population was 6.3 million. In 1961, it was 10 something million made up of 46.2 percent indigenous people, 42.2 percent Chinese and 9.4 percent Indian. Thus making the Malays, despite Merdeka, a minority in their own country. Between 1946 until independence, one of the major topics at UMNO general assemblies was immigration. In 1972, the population was 11,149,768 of which 9,379,927 were in Semenanjung, 736,684 in Sabah and 1,033,157 in Sarawak. The formation of Malaysia gave The Bumiputra an edge over the non-Malays. When Singapore left Malaysia in 1965, the percentage of the country's Bumiputra population increased. Now, because of the high birth-rate and better medical facilities, the population is estimated to be 27-something million and in 25 year's time, estimated to be 41 million ( 2035 ).
The racial composition today is roughly 66 percent Bumiputra and the non-Bumiputra 34 percent - Chinese 25.3 percent, Indian 7.5 percent and the balance is others. In 2035, Bumiputra 72.1 percent, Chinese 20 percent, Indian 6.6 percent and others 1.3 percent. Not quite the reverse of Singapore, but close. The changing racial composition has both economic and political implications. No doubt it will benefit the majority race for as long as we practise parliamentary democracy. Though other Malaysians may only comprise 34 percent of the population now, they and the foreigners continue to dominate the economy. In the final analysis quality always wins over quantity.
But racial dominance,numerically speaking, is crucial because it determines seats in parliment and state assemblies, decides the political directions and policy of the nations, and who, from where and get whats?