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The Numbers Game: Stateless Indians in Malaysia

Commentary

cont-ind2I have followed with some interest the on-going arguments between the MIC and a number of PKR leaders on the status of Indians born in Malaysia who do not enjoy the rights of Malaysian citizenship.

My attention has also been drawn to a recent article by Dr Paraman Subramanian entitled 450,000 stateless Indians in Malaysia, fact or fiction?1 Dr Paraman expresses concern that a large number of Malaysians of Indian origin have been deprived of their right to citizenship despite their being entitled by virtue of their birth in Malaysia. Quoting Hindraf estimates, which to my knowledge have yet to be fully substantiated, he cites a figure of 450,000 Malaysian-born Indians “who have been rendered stateless as they have been denied citizenship status by the Malaysian Government.”

Dr Paraman contends that according to the 2010 Population Census enumeration there were 2,320,779 non-Malaysian citizens in the country. He then goes on to acknowledge that while the majority of these were likely to be migrant workers made up of Indonesians, Bangladeshis and other nationalities, he asserts that this number “ … in reality it is suspected that this figure of 2.3 million also includes a large number of Malaysian-born but stateless Indians.”

Dr Paraman then goes to make references to discussions on the subject that took place at the time of the preparation of the Ninth Malaysia Five Year Plan and the call on the authorities to conduct studies to ascertain the number of persons of Indian origin who were thus categorized.

He expresses some degree of frustration about the lack of progress in settling the issue which has serious adverse effects on the victims of circumstances linked to their inability to adduce evidence of birth in Malaysia and establish their citizenship status.

It is somewhat surprising that such a study was not conducted either by the Government or by independent researchers given that there existed a large volume of data that had been collected in the Censuses of 1970, 1980, 1991, 2000, 2010. These censuses collected comprehensive information on ethnicity, citizenship status, birth place (in all of the five censuses) and information on identity card colour, period of residence in the country in the censuses of 1970 and 1980.

The data has been published and is in the public domain. Had a thorough study been attempted, it would not have been necessary to launch another data collection. Nor would it have led to the preparation of the rather crude estimates by Hindraf which now appear to form the basis of estimates done by Dr Paraman. The estimates cited are based on an approach which is far from robust.

Both Hindraf and Dr Paraman did not take advantage of the work done by Professor Saw Swee Hock, an eminent demographer at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Professor Saw had painstakingly analysed the data from the various censuses in depth and published two volumes2. Professor Saw, in his seminal books on The Population of Peninsular Malaysia (1985) and The Population of Malaysia (2007), has analysed all of the major demographic trends, including the changing ethnic composition of the population, over the pre and post-independence period.

His analysis includes exhaustive discussion of ethnicity, migration patterns and citizenship. Many of the answers to the current controversial questions linked to the citizen status of persons of Indian origin can be readily found in these two volumes. The search for answers concerning the numbers of Indians resident in Malaysia who are without citizenship would have been largely satisfied had a full literature search been conducted.

Dr Paraman accepts the Hindraf estimate of 450,000 persons of Indian origin who it is alleged have been denied citizenship. He arrives at this estimate in a rather circuitous manner.

He starts by citing population projections prepared in 1974 under my supervision by the Department of Statistics. His paper correctly refers to the fertility and mortality rate assumptions that were utilized in the preparation of the population projections. He refers to the methodology employed in the preparation of those 20 year projections, based namely on alternative assumptions of low, medium and high fertility and mortality for each of the three ethnic groups.

He however fails to make any reference whatsoever to an important part of the methodology. He errs by not indicating that the parameters used did not factor in any assumptions about the level of net external migration. The CICRED paper, which reported the official 20 year projections to the year 1990 prepared by the Department of Statistics, indeed was explicit that zero migration was being assumed.

Zero net migration was assumed even though net migration had historically been an important element in determining population growth in the Peninsula.3 This assumption about migration was a rational and consistent assumption as there was no objective basis to determine the future patterns of migratory flows. The past was no predictor of the future. It must be further stressed that the projections were based on internationally accepted norms.

To return to Dr Paraman, he compares the results of the 1991 Census with the projected numbers for the three ethnic groups and observes the divergence between the projected numbers and the 1991 Census outcome. He notes that the divergence was greatest in the case of the Indian figures.

He observes that the projections for the Indian community were between 1,491,949 and 1,660,575 and that the Census of 1991 showed a count of only 1,316,086 Indians, a figure outside the range of the high and low projections.

He makes the observation: “Meaning the Indian community was around 250,000-300,000 persons less than the estimated number projected by the Chief Statistician of Malaysia in 1975. How is that so when he was well on the mark on the estimates of the Malay and Chinese communities?....................... ... As of 1991, there were at least 250,000 to 300,000 ethnic Indians who had been denied citizenship status in Malaysia for whatever reasons. That was in 1991. Today after 21 years, that number must surely be more than 450,000 at the very least."

Regrettably, Dr Paraman makes no attempt to authenticate the natural rates of growth that occurred over the period 1970-91 versus those that had been assumed in the context of the population projections. A comparison of this nature would have shown up the divergences.

Had he then taken account of the estimates of net migration available from the Censuses of 1980, 1991, 2000, and 2010, he would have not come up with his estimate of 450,000.

Implicit in the claim that there are at this point in time some 450,000 persons of Indian origin who have been misclassified them as non-citizens does not stand scrutiny were a full analysis of the data from the various censuses be attempted.  

The Malaysian Censuses have been accepted by demographers and other analysts as conforming to internationally acceptable standards and enjoy a high degree of credibility.

Reference has already been made to the work of Professor Saw. A brief overview is in order to aid our understanding of the issues. A careful review of the data will remove the need for conjecture or guesswork as to the magnitude of the problem of undocumented Indians.

What is clear is that there is no evidence to support the Hindraf claim of 450,000 stateless persons of Indian origin. This is not to suggest that there are no such persons or that they are not the victims of circumstances. Their plight arises from their inability to produce documentation proving birth in Malaysia and thus entitling them to citizenship under the provisions of the Federal Constitution. The rather inflexible approach adopted by the authorities has compounded and prolonged the hardships faced by these individuals.

The 1.3 million enumerated in the Census of 1991 needs to be assessed in the context of the historical economic and social changes that impacted on the demographic trends in the post 1970 period. Professor Saw has reported that between 1970 and 1984, the Crude Birth Rate for Indians declined from 33.2 to 29.8; the Crude Death Rate declined from 6.9 to 5.3. Thus the natural rate of growth was reduced.

These trends have continued. Professor Saw also reported that net migration of Indians recorded the following pattern: out migration of 42,300 between the 1947 and 1957 Censuses, 103,400 between the Census of 1957 and 1970 and an out migration of 76,000 between 1970 and 19804. These were sizable movements of population on top of deaths of aged non-citizens.  

Indian migration out of the country accelerated over the period from 1957. It should be recalled that following the events of May 13 1969, all Red IC card holders (non-Citizens) were compelled to seek work permits. The Indians who had lacked citizenship status and documentation proving birth in Malaysia were severely affected.

Moreover, plantation workers were displaced as plantations were converted into either housing estates or fragmented into smallholdings. These developments displaced a large part of the Indian work force and contributed to social pressures linked with rising levels of unemployment. Under these circumstances, many of these displaced workers facing destitution had no options but to return to their roots in India.

Thus, out migration contributed to reducing the rate of growth of the Indian population. Both a lower rate of natural growth and outward migration contributed to slower growth.  

In contrast, Red IC card holders of Chinese origin faced somewhat lesser pressures. The new requirement of work permits imposed less of a burden as many of the Chinese Red IC card holders took on self-employment as construction workers, market gardeners and as petty traders. Furthermore, they did not have the option to return to mainland China with its communist regime in place.

Foreign Born Population5

(‘000)

Year Total Malay Chinese Indian
1921 1248 162 682 387
1931 1530 146 900 450
1947 1086 101 707 259
1957 990 88 595 245
1970 680 82 410 165
1980 529 117 284 110

It is note noteworthy that over the decades the number of foreign born has shown a decline. This is indicative of the more stable population with migration from China and India playing a lesser role. Although migrant labour has become a more important factor in the last two decades, such labour has been drawn from countries other than China or India.

Taking the Indian population specifically, in 1980 the foreign born Indians numbered 110,000 as against 165,500 at the time of the previous census in 1970. Not all of these were non-citizens. It is not out of place to assume that in the light of the older persons in this category passing away coupled with limited in migration and some outmigration, the number of foreign born Indians has declined further.6

As noted earlier, past censuses have canvassed data on the citizenship status of all persons aged 12 and above. The age cut-off is linked to the system of Identity Cards. Professor Saw’s analysis points to the fact that the 1970 Census recorded that of the 5,579,200 persons aged 12 and above 92 per cent were citizens. The corresponding number in 1980 was 97.8 per cent. The pattern for the three ethnic groups was:

Citizenship Status

(percent)

Race 1970 19807
Malay 97.9 98.2
Chinese 91.3 98.1
Indian 68.2 95.7

These numbers show that by 1980 the Indian community only lagged marginally behind the other major ethnic groups in terms of citizenship.

The Census of 2010 recorded the following: The total population was 28.3 million of which 91.8 per cent were Malaysian citizens and 8.2 per cent were non-citizens. Malaysian citizens consist of the ethnic groups Bumiputera (67.4%), Chinese (24.6%), Indians (7.3%) and Others (0.7%). These statistics can be synchronized and tallied with the annual mid-year estimates of population that have been published routinely. The census numbers can thus be validated.

An alternative way of looking at the situation is merited. In the three decades since 1980, fewer and fewer births have not been registered; the older generation of undocumented persons have either passed away or out migrated, a trend since the 1950s. Thus, there is no basis to argue that the pool of undocumented persons, as claimed by Hindraf, could have increased by just over four-fold since 1980 when there were 110,000 such persons.

Therefore, it is not unrealistic to assume that the overall percentage of non-citizens would have declined from the percentage of 4.3 per cent recorded in 1980.

In any event, Dr Paraman and others with an interest in the issues at hand will be well served by a closer analysis of the rich body of demographic data that exists. Malaysia is truly blessed by the fact that it has good demographic data going back many decades. That data should be put to good use.

Well-meaning efforts to highlight the hardships faced by undocumented persons could be greatly aided by serious analysis. Numbers based on conjecture on the other hand, do not contribute to an objective look at the issues.

A more productive approach calls for an in-depth and objective review of the wealth of information that exists in the Censuses. Systematic and organized analysis can and should put to rest claims and counter-claims about the size of the undocumented population of Indian origin.


Datuk R. Chander 
Former Chief Statistician of Malaysia 
Washington DC
May 7th 2012

***********************************************

1. http://english.cpiasia.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2310:450000-stateless-indians-in-malaysia-fact-or-fiction&catid=219:contributors&Itemid=189.
  

2. Saw Swee Hock: The Population of Peninsular Malaysia   and The Population of Malaysia. These books, a project of Malaysia Study Programme of ISEAS, covers the whole of Malaysia since its formation in 1963, using statistics collected in the four pan-Malaysia Population Censuses held in 1970, 1980, 1991, and 2000, and data from other sources up to 2005 wherever possible. The second book is by far the most up-to-date and comprehensive study of the multiracial population of the country, with painstaking effort and skill of the author in interpreting the vast array of information at his disposal. The strength of the book lies in the author's deep familiarity with the country where he was educated up to secondary level, and even taught for some years in the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, in the sixties.

3. See CICRED Monograph Series: The Population of Malaysia

4. Source: Saw Swee Hock: The Population of Peninsular Malaysia. Similar data are available in The Population of Malaysia by the same author for later periods.

5. Source: Saw Swee Hock: The Population of Peninsular Malaysia.

6. It should be possible to verify this by reference to the subsequent censuses conducted in 1991, 2000 and 2010.

7. Similar information from the Censuses of 1991, 2000 and 2010 should be available from the Department of Statistics, Putrajaya.


 

<p>I have followed with some interest the on-going arguments between the MIC and a number of PKR leaders on the status of Indians born in Malaysia who do not enjoy the rights of Malaysian citizenship. My attention has also been drawn to a recent article by Dr. Paraman Subramanian entitled <i>450,000 stateless Indians in Malaysia, fact or fiction?<sup>1</sup> </i>Dr. Paraman expresses concern that a large number of Malaysians of Indian origin have been deprived of their right to citizenship despite their being entitled by virtue of their birth in Malaysia. Quoting Hindraf estimates, which to my knowledge have yet to be fully substantiated, he cites a figure of 450,000 Malaysian –born Indians “who have been rendered stateless as they have been denied citizenship status by the Malaysian Government.”</p>
<p>Dr. Paraman contends that according to the 2010 Population Census enumeration there were 2,320, 779 non-Malaysian citizens in the country. He then goes on to acknowledge that while the majority of these were likely to be migrant workers made up of Indonesians, Bangladeshis and other nationalities, he asserts that this number “ … in reality it is suspected that this figure of 2.3 million also includes a large number of Malaysian-born but stateless Indians.”</p>
<p>Dr. Paraman then goes to make references to discussions on the subject that took place at the time of the preparation of the Ninth Malaysia Five Year Plan and the call on the authorities to conduct studies to ascertain the number of persons of Indian origin who were thus categorized. He expresses some degree of frustration about the lack of progress in settling the issue which has serious adverse effects on the victims of circumstances linked to their inability to adduce evidence of birth in Malaysia and establish their citizenship status. It is somewhat surprising that such a study was not conducted either by the Government or by independent researchers given that there existed a large volume of data that had been collected in the Censuses of 1970, 1980, 1991, 2000, 2010. These censuses collected comprehensive information on ethnicity, citizenship status, birth place (in all of the five censuses) and information on identity card color, period of residence in the country in the censuses of 1970 and 1980. The data has been published and is in the public domain. Had a thorough study been attempted, it would not have been necessary to launch another data collection. Nor would it have led to the preparation of the rather crude estimates by Hindraf which now appear to form the basis of estimates done by Dr. Paraman. The estimates cited are based on an approach which is far from robust. Both Hindraf and Dr. Paraman did not take advantage of the work done by Professor Saw Swee Hock, an eminent demographer at the Institute of Southeast Asian   Studies. Professor Saw had painstakingly analysed the data from the various censuses in depth and published two volumes<sup>2</sup>. Professor Saw in his seminal books on The Population of Peninsular Malaysia (1985) and The Population of Malaysia (2007) has analysed all of the major demographic trends, including the changing ethnic composition of the population, over the pre and post-independence period. His analysis includes exhaustive discussion of ethnicity, migration patterns and citizenship. Many of the answers to the current controversial questions linked to the citizen status of persons of Indian origin can be readily found in these two volumes.  The search for answers concerning the numbers of Indians resident in Malaysia who are without citizenship would have been largely satisfied had a full literature search been conducted.</p>
<p>Dr. Paraman accepts the Hindraf estimate of 450,000 persons of Indian origin who it is alleged have been denied citizenship. He arrives at this estimate in a rather circuitous manner. He starts by citing population projections prepared in 1974 under my supervision by the Department of Statistics. His paper correctly refers to the fertility and mortality rate assumptions that were utilized in the preparation of the population projections. He refers to the methodology employed in the preparation of those 20 year projections, based namely on alternative assumptions of low, medium and high fertility and mortality for each of the three ethnic groups. He however fails to make any reference whatsoever to an important part of the methodology. He errs by not indicating that the parameters used did not factor in any assumptions about the level of net external migration.  The CICRED paper, which reported the official 20 year projections to the year 1990 prepared by the Department of Statistics, indeed was explicit that <span style="text-decoration: underline;">zero migration was being assumed.</span> Zero net migration was assumed even though net migration had historically been an important element in determining population growth in the Peninsula.<sup>3 </sup>This assumption about migration was a rational and consistent assumption as there was no objective basis to determine the future patterns of migratory flows. The past was no predictor of the future.  It must be further stressed that the projections were based on internationally accepted norms.</p>
<p>To return to Dr. Paraman, he compares the results of the 1991 Census with the projected numbers for the three ethnic groups and observes the divergence between the projected numbers and the 1991 Census outcome. He notes that the divergence was greatest in the case of the Indian figures. He observes that the projections for the Indian community were between 1,491,949 and 1,660,575 and that the Census of 1991 showed a count of only 1,316,086 Indians, a figure outside the range of the high and low projections. He makes the observation: “Meaning the Indian community was around 250,000-300,000 persons less than the estimated number projected by the Chief Statistician of Malaysia in 1975. How is that so when he was well on the mark on the estimates of the Malay and Chinese communities?....................... As of 1991, there were at least 250,000 to 300,000 ethnic Indians who had been denied citizenship status in Malaysia for whatever reasons. That was in 1991. Today after 21 years, that number must surely be more than 450,000 at the very least.’  Regrettably, Dr. Paraman makes no attempt to authenticate the natural rates of growth that occurred over the period 1970- 91 versus those that had been assumed in the context of the population projections. A comparison of this nature would have shown up the divergences. Had he then taken account of the estimates of net migration available from the Censuses of 1980, 1991, 2000, and 2010, he would have not come up with his estimate of 450,000.</p>
<p>Implicit in the claim that there are at this point in time some 450,000 persons of Indian origin who have been misclassified them as non-citizens does not stand scrutiny were a full analysis of the data from the various censuses be attempted.  The Malaysian Censuses have been accepted by demographers and other analysts as conforming to internationally acceptable standards and enjoy a high degree of credibility.</p>
<p>Reference has already been made to the work of Professor Saw. A brief overview is in order to aid our understanding of the issues.  A careful review of the data will remove the need for conjecture or guesswork as to the magnitude of the problem of undocumented Indians. What is clear is that there is no evidence to support the Hindraf claim of 450,000 stateless persons of Indian origin. This is not to suggest that there are no such persons or that they are not the victims of circumstances. Their plight arises from their inability to produce documentation proving birth in Malaysia and thus entitling them to citizenship under the provisions of the Federal Constitution. The rather inflexible approach adopted by the authorities has compounded and prolonged the hardships faced by these individuals.</p>
<p>The 1.3 million enumerated in the Census of 1991 needs to be assessed in the context of the historical economic and social changes that impacted on the demographic trends in the post 1970 period. Professor Saw has reported that between 1970 and 1984, the Crude Birth Rate for Indians declined from 33.2 to 29.8; the Crude Death Rate declined from 6.9 to 5.3.  Thus the natural rate of growth was reduced. These trends have continued. Professor Saw also reported that net migration of Indians recorded the following pattern: out migration of 42,300 between the 1947 and 1957 Censuses, 103,400 between the Census of 1957 and 1970 and an out migration of 76,000 between 1970 and 1980<sup>4</sup>. These were sizable movements of population on top of deaths of aged non-citizens.  Indian migration out of the country accelerated over the period from 1957. It should be recalled that following the events of May 13 1969, all Red IC card holders (non- Citizens) were compelled to seek work permits. The Indians who had lacked citizenship status and documentation proving birth in Malaysia were severely affected. Moreover, plantation workers were displaced as plantations were converted into either housing estates or fragmented into smallholdings. These developments displaced a large part of the Indian work force and contributed to social pressures linked with rising levels of unemployment. Under these circumstances, many of these displaced workers facing destitution had no options but to return to their roots in India. Thus, out migration contributed to reducing the rate of growth of the Indian population. Both a lower rate of natural growth and outward migration contributed to slower growth.  In contrast, Red IC card holders of Chinese origin faced somewhat lesser pressures. The new requirement of work permits imposed less of a burden as many of the Chinese Red IC card holders took on self-employment as construction workers, market gardeners and as petty traders. Furthermore, they did not have the option to return to Mainland China with its Communist regime in place.</p>
<p><b>Foreign Born Population<sup>5</sup></b></p>
<p>(‘000)</p>
<table style="border: 2px solid #0000cc;" border="2" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="3">
<tbody>
<tr style="height: 0px;">
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 7px 7px 7px 7px;">Year</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Total</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Malay</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Chinese</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Indian</span></p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr style="height: 0px;">
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">1921</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">1248</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">162</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">682</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">387</span></p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr style="height: 0px;">
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">1931</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">1530</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">146</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">900</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">450</span></p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr style="height: 0px;">
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">1947</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">1086</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">101</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">707</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">259</span></p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr style="height: 0px;">
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">1957</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">990</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">88</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">595</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">245</span></p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr style="height: 0px;">
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">1970</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">680</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">82</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">410</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">165</span></p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr style="height: 0px;">
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">1980</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">529</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">117</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">284</span></p>
</td>
<td style="border: 1px dotted #aaa; vertical-align: top; padding: 0px 7px 0px 7px;">
<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">110</span></p>
</td>
</tr>
</tbody>
</table>
<p>It is note noteworthy that over the decades the number of foreign born has shown a decline. This is indicative of the more stable population with migration from China and India playing a lesser role. Although migrant labor has become a more important factor in the last two decades, such labor has been drawn from countries other than China or India. Taking the Indian population specifically, in 1980 the foreign born Indians numbered 110,000 as against 165,500 at the time of the previous census in 1970. Not all of these were non-citizens. It is not out of place to assume that in the light of the older persons in this category passing away coupled with limited in migration and some outmigration, the number of foreign born Indians has declined further.6</p>
<p>As noted earlier, past censuses have canvassed data on the citizenship status of all persons aged 12 and above. The age cut-off is linked to the system of Identity Cards. Professor Saw’s analysis points to the fact that the 1970 Census recorded that of the 5,579,200 persons aged 12 and above 92 per cent were citizens. The corresponding number in 1980 was 97.8 per cent. The pattern for the three ethnic groups was:</p>
<p><b>Citizenship Status </b></p>
<p><b>(percent)<br /></b></p>
<table border="2" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="3">
<tbody>
<tr style="background-color: #3399ff;">
<td><strong><span style="color: #ffffff;">Race</span></strong></td>
<td><strong><span style="color: #ffffff;">1970</span></strong></td>
<td><strong><span style="color: #ffffff;">1980<sup>7</sup></span></strong></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>Malay</td>
<td>97.9</td>
<td>98.2</td>
</tr>
<tr style="background-color: #dddddd;">
<td>Chinese</td>
<td>91.3</td>
<td>98.1</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>Indian</td>
<td>68.2</td>
<td>95.7</td>
</tr>
</tbody>
</table>
<p> </p>
<p>These numbers show that by 1980 the Indian community only lagged marginally behind the other major ethnic groups in terms of citizenship. The Census of 2010 recorded the following:  The total population was 28.3 million of which 91.8 per cent were Malaysian citizens and 8.2 per cent were non-citizens. Malaysian citizens consist of the ethnic groups Bumiputera (67.4%), Chinese (24.6%), Indians (7.3%) and Others (0.7%). These statistics can be synchronized and tallied with the annual mid-year estimates of population that have been published routinely. The census numbers can thus be validated.</p>
<p>An alternative way of looking at the situation is merited. In the three decades since  1980, fewer and fewer births have not been registered; the older generation of undocumented persons have either passed away or out migrated, a trend since the 1950s. Thus, there is no basis to argue that the pool of undocumented persons, as claimed by Hindraf, could have increased  by just over four-fold since 1980 when there were 110,000 such persons. Therefore, it is not unrealistic to assume that the overall percentage of non-citizens would have declined from the percentage of 4.3 per cent recorded in 1980.</p>
<p>In any event, Dr. Paraman and others with an interest in the issues at hand will be well served by a closer analysis of the rich body of demographic data that exists. Malaysia is truly blessed by the fact that it has good demographic data going back many decades. That data should be put to good use.</p>
<p>Well-meaning efforts to highlight the hardships faced by undocumented persons could be greatly aided by serious analysis. Numbers based on conjecture on the other hand, do not contribute to an objective look at the issues. A more productive approach calls for an in-depth and objective review of the wealth of information that exists in the Censuses. Systematic and organized analysis can and should put to rest claims and counter-claims about the size of the undocumented population of Indian origin.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Datuk R. Chander</p>
<p>Former Chief Statistician of Malaysia</p>
<p>Washington DC</p>
<p>May 7th 2012</p>
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