Politics and political power is all about people. So any changes to the demographics will have a bearing on the political outcome. [so far no animal have been allowed to vote, so changes in the animal population will not affect our politics. I am however rather disappointed that a few frogs have been allowed to stand as candidates].
I just got hold of population projections up to 2040 from the Statistics Department
. They have a lot of data on their website – you should go and spend some time there
Let’s look what the potential changes to the Malaysian population and how it may affect politics.
In 2010, Malaysia’s population was 28.6 million. The population will increase by about 10 million (35.0%) to 38.6 million in 2040 (Chart 1). The percentage of people living in urban areas will also increase (from the current 71% to over 80%). Selangor will still be the populous state but Sabah will overtake Johor to become the second most populated state.
Implications ? :
There will definitely be more voters overall and most of them will be in urban areas. Will this lead to creation of more electoral constituencies? How will constituencies be delineated? Will the balance between rural and urban constituencies be changed? Will Selangor, Sabah and Johor get greater representation? As more Malays move into urban areas, will PAS (traditionally reliant on rural voters) still be able to hold court?
The population will become older. The median age will increase from 26.3 to 36.0 years. Population for the age group 0–14 years will decline from 27.4% in 2010 to 19.6% in 2040. However, the population for the age group15–64 years and 65 years and over is expected to increase by 1.4% and 6.4% respectively over the same period (Table 1). The percentage of population aged 65 years and over is projected to double (from 5% to 11.4%).
The age structure will also vary according to ethnic groups. The Chinese population will be much older than the other ethnic groups due to lower fertility rate.
Changes in the age structure of the population can be seen from the population pyramid. In 2040, the pyramid shows a board apex indicating a rise in the elderly population (Chart 2). Malaysia will be an aging society in 2021 (aging society defined as a society where the population aged 65 and over constitute more 7% of the total population).
The percentage of population eligible to vote will be higher. The average age of the voters will also be higher. Will issues (health care, retirement, pensions, geriatric medicine, etc) related to the elderly become important political topics? Will we see more people in their 70’s and 80’s running for office? How would the voice of the youth be heard?
The population of all ethnic groups will increase. The Malays will have the highest increase – increasing by about 6 million people [from 14.3 million in 2010 to 20.9 million in 2040]. This will be followed by other Bumiputeras and Chinese with an increase of 1.8 million and 0.7 million respectively. Indians and non-Malaysian citizens will increase by about 0.4 million. The population growth rate varies by ethnic group. The main variation is mainly due to the differences in levels of fertility, mortality and migration rates.
The percentage of Malays and other Bumiputeras as a proportion of the country’s population will increase from 61.8% in 2010 to 67.5% in 2040. The Chinese population will decline from 22.5% in 2010 to 18.4% in 2040 as the result of the decrease in fertility rate. Penang will cease to be a Chinese majority state. Indians will account for less than 6% of the population.
If we discount the non-citizens, the percentage of Malays and other Bumiputeras in the country will increase from 67.2% to 72.4%, the percentage of Chinese will decline from 24.4% in 2010 to 19.8% in 2040 and the percentage of Indians will decline from 7.3% to 6.3%.
Given the age structure and fertility variations among the ethnic groups, the Chinese population will also be much older than the rest. The proportion of Chinese and Indian youth in 2040 will be very small compared to the Malays and other Bumiputeras.
Many urban areas will be Malay/Bumiputera majority areas in 2040.The number of Chinese-majority seats in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak will decline considerably
How would parties like DAP, MCA, Gerakan, SAPP and SUPP which rely almost exclusively on the Chinese support fare in 2040? Will the MIC and PPP be still relevant? Will the seat distribution among parties remain the same given that Malays and other Bumiputeras will form a very large proportion of the country’s population? Will race still be a major deciding factor?