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Demographics of Malaysia

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Demographics of Malaysia

Post by Guest on Mon Sep 20, 2010 7:05 pm

Malaysia's population comprises many ethnic groups, with the Malays making up the majority at 50.4%; and other bumiputra at 11%[86] of the population. According to constitutional definition, Malays are Muslims who practice Malay customs (adat) and culture. Therefore, technically, a Muslim of any race who practices Malay customs and culture can be considered a Malay and allocated privilleged status in the form of the rights stipulated in the constitution for Malays, aboriginals and natives (commonly referred to as Bumiputra, although the constitution itself does not use this term).[87][88] Bumiputra status is also accorded to certain non-Malay indigenous peoples, including ethnic Thais, Khmers, Chams and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak. Non-Malay bumiputra make up more than half of Sarawak's population (of which 30% are Ibans), and close to 60% of Sabah's population (of which 18% are Kadazan-Dusuns, and 17% are Bajaus).[86] There also exist aboriginal groups in much smaller numbers on the peninsula, where they are collectively known as Orang Asli.

Various other minorities who lack Bumiputra status have established themselves in Malaysia, for a variety of reasons. 23.7% of the population are Malaysians of Chinese descent, while Malaysians of Indian descent comprise 7.1% of the population.[86] Many Europeans and Middle Easterners assimilated through inter-marriage into the Christian and Muslim communities respectively. Most Eurasian Malaysians trace their ancestry to British, Dutch or Portuguese colonists.

Malaysian citizenship is usually granted by lex soli.[89] Citizenship in the states of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo are distinct from citizenship in Peninsular Malaysia for immigration purposes. Every citizen is issued a biometric smart chip identity card, known as MyKad, at the age of 12, and must carry the card at all times.[90]

The population distribution is highly uneven, with some 20 million residents concentrated on the Malay Peninsula, while East Malaysia has about 7 million people. Due to the rise in labour intensive industries, Malaysia has 10% to 20% foreign workers, the exact figure being uncertain due in part to the large number of illegal workers. There are a million legal foreign workers and perhaps another million unauthorised foreigners. The state of Sabah alone had nearly 25% of its 2.7 million population listed as illegal foreign workers in the last census. Sabah NGOs estimate that out of the 3 million population, 2 million are illegal immigrants.

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