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    Feb 15, 2016

    More foreign workers than Chinese in Malaysia by 2030?


    FOREIGN labourers will outnumber Malaysia's ethnic Chinese population by 2030 if the government keeps letting them in in growing numbers, a local Chinese newspaper pointed out yesterday.

    There are currently about six million Chinese-Malaysians, almost equal to the number of legal and illegal foreign workers in the country, the Malaysian Employers Federation revealed recently.

    But given the persistently low birth rates among the ethnic Chinese and the government's plan to bring in a further 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers over the next few years, the Chinese presence in Malaysia will be eclipsed by that of foreign labourers in 14 years' time, forecasted Sin Chew Daily News in a report yesterday.

    The newspaper made the prediction after interviewing Abdul Rahman Hasan, chief of Malaysia's Department of Statistics (JPM), who emphasised that ethnic Chinese would remain the country's "second biggest race" in 2030 despite a further drop in their population ratio.

    According to JPM, ethnic Chinese accounted for 21.4 per cent of Malaysia's population last year but the ratio will drop to 19.6 per cent by 2030.

    Among the three main races in Malaysia, only the ratio of ethnic Malays had increased since 1957, from 47.9 per cent to 61.8 per cent, while the Indians also saw a drastic drop from 12.3 per cent to 6.4 per cent, said Mr Abdul Rahman.

    But the ethnic Chinese race registered the biggest decrease, as they made up 37.4 per cent in 1957, and the trend is not likely to reverse as the average fertility rate among Chinese women is only 1.4 now.

    Demographer Tan Keng Chuan from JPM holds the view that ethnic Chinese will not become a tiny minority soon, as Chinese women of child-bearing age still constitute a large group.

    Last year, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that 1.5 million workers from Bangladesh will be brought to Malaysia in stages to meet the needs of employers.

    The announcement raised widespread outcry over possible economic, political and social fallout, with the latest protest coming from the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers.

    "The government should first clear the existing illegal foreign workers before bringing in these workers," Malaysia Chronicle quoted the federation as saying in a statement.