Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Demographics of Malaysia


Race refers to classifications of humans into large and relatively distinct populations or groups often based on factors such as appearance based on heritable phenotypical characteristics or geographic ancestry, but also often influenced by and correlated with traits such as culture, ethnicity and socio-economic status.[1] As a biological term, race denotes genetically divergent human populations that can be marked by common phenotypic traits.[2] This sense of race is often used by forensic anthropologists when analyzing skeletal remains, in biomedical research, and in race-based medicine.[3] The study of shared traits among peoples is also conducted along ethnic lines, involving the endogamic history of groups. Racial groupings may correspond with patterns of social stratification, helping social scientists to understand the underlying disparities among racially defined groups of people.[4] Additionally, law enforcement utilizes race to create profiles of wanted suspects in an expeditious manner.

While scientists use the concept of race to make practical distinctions among fuzzy sets of traits, the scientific community feels that the idea of race is often used by the general public[5] in a naïve[6] or simplistic way, erroneously designating wholly discrete types of individuals. Among humans, race has no cladistic significance—all people belong to the same hominid subspecies, Homo sapiens sapiens.[7][8] Regardless of the extent to which race exists, the word "race" is problematic and may carry negative connotations.[9] Social conceptions and groupings of races vary over time, involving folk taxonomies[10][11][12] that define essential types of individuals based on perceived sets of traits. Scientists consider biological essentialism obsolete,[13] and generally discourage racial explanations for collective differentiation in both physical and behavioral traits.[6][14]

As people define and disseminate different conceptions of race, they actively create contrasting social realities through which racial categorization is achieved in varied ways.[15] In this sense, races are said to be social constructs.[16][17] These constructs can develop within various legal,[15][18] economic,[18] and sociopolitical[19][20] contexts, and at times may be the effect, rather than the cause, of major social situations.[19] Socioecomonic factors,[19][21][22][23][24] in combination with early but enduring[25] views of race, have led to considerable suffering amongst the disadvantaged racial groups. Scholars continue to debate the degrees to which racial categories are biologically warranted[9][26] and socially constructed, as well as the extent to which the realities[27] of race must be acknowledged in order for society to comprehend and address racism adequately.(source: wikipedia)

The term race or racial group usually refers to the categorization of humans into populations or groups on the basis of various sets of heritable characteristics. The physical features commonly seen as indicating race are salient visual traits such as skin color, cranial or facial features and hair texture.

Conceptions of race, as well as specific ways of grouping races, vary by culture and over time, and are often controversial for scientific as well as social and political reasons. The controversy ultimately revolves around whether or not the socially constructed and perpetuated beliefs regarding race are biologically warranted; and the degree to which differences in ability and achievement are a product of inherited "racial" (i.e., genetic) traits.

Large parts of the academic community take the position that, while racial categories may be marked by sets of common phenotypic or genotypic traits, the popular idea of "race" is a social construct without base in scientific fact.

The concept of race may vary from country to country, that is, it changes according to specific cultures. For example, in the United States the term race is used in the description of individuals (e.g. white, black, Latin). Some country classify race according to religion, other according to geographical, other according to social-cultural division, or even with political classification based on constitution or law for definition; where there is no common genetic traits.

Some racial group are close and restrictive, the race is genetically disadvantage if the population is small due to close relative marriage ; other are open, where other races can be accepted to their race when they comply with their imposed social or legal conditions, the race is actually mixed race, where biological or genetic traits or DNA identification is difficult. But genetically they are stronger.

Other called their race the master race, privilege race or supreme race, other races are inferior. They are mainly for political purpose, and race discrimination practiced.

Historical information revealed that most of large races recorded from early civilization that remained are race which with records of assimilation from many races due to intermarriage, the Chinese Han, India Hindu are mixed race, are races that survived from early civilization. They adapt and adopt to survive. Roman, Egypt, Greece, Persia remained localized at their origin, some may even disappear and the racial background of the country no longer the original people/race. Most of the Near East early civilization, their races were no longer around or in declining numbers. Races that insist that they are the pure race may not survive long, the race that survived are mixed race, from long period of continue interaction with other races. The race that survive must contain some positive value that other races willing to adopt. So there is no such thing as master race, if there is , they no longer survive, or they may be still living in primitive life with declining number...The one who lobbying for a pure race, or master race, or supreme race, or privileged race are narrow minded people living in their own nutshell; or smart politician using racial politic to divide people and consolidate their power. It is pity that some third country people are still buying the idea.

We may not be able to erase our race identification, we are proud of our racial roots, we should also value race diversity. So at the era of globalization, all races will found to be more common; a global race? why worry of individual race, white, black, yellow, or brown,or even mixed....better worry about global habitat, whether we all(all races) can survive with the climate change and their effects...

Any students of race study or demography need to be alert and clear on the classification and other influences, especially political influences. It need to be open mind to understand some traditional norms.

Races classification in Malaysia

The concept of 'race' in contemporary Malaysia combines British colonial attitudes with the approach taken by leaders of local anti-colonial movements. The definition of 'race' in Malaysia has changed little since the 1960s, despite the fact that it is somewhat out of step with both contemporary scientific thinking as well as the approach taken by many other countries.

Historically, the word race in Malaysia was used to describe a great multiplicity of ethnic groups. These include 'Shanghainese', 'Japanese', 'Sikhs', 'Armenians', 'Arab' and 'Javanese', amongst others. Clearly, these were broad and sometimes overlapping groups, and they were drawn along various geographical, linguistic, religious and political lines. Often, these were the terms in which ordinary people identified themselves in relation to others, and would often have constituted their primary ethnic identity.

In early 20th century Malaysia, the largely immigrant local Asian population was influenced by and caught up with the rise of modern ideological movements in their ancestral homelands. These included nationalist and anti-colonial independence movements, as well as cultural and religious reformist movements. These movements, especially in China and India , tended to emphasise wider 'national' identities, over more narrow traditional caste, clan or dialect identities. Thus, 'Chinese', 'Indian' and 'Malay' became important identities for residents, transcending older loyalties.

By the mid-20th century, the consolidation of Chinese and Indian identity was matched by the growing Malay nationalism, and its concomitant anxiety about the large Chinese and Indian immigrant communities in Malaya. Consequently, these three identities became of primary importance in political discourse and how people saw themselves. Government texts and statistics also began to match these new, more important identities, which continued to be called by the old name, 'races'.

The said classification by races has become important demographic classification for national statistic.

Demographics of Malaysia

Malaysia's population comprises many ethnic groups, with the Malays at 50.4% making up the majority and other bumiputra/indigenous (Aborigine) groups in Sabah and Sarawak at 11% of the population. By 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 have equal rights when it comes to Malay rights as stated in the constitution.

Non-Malay bumiputra groups make up more than half of the state 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). There also exist aboriginal groups in much smaller numbers on the Peninsula, where they are collectively known as Orang Asli.

23.7% of the population are Malaysians of Chinese descent, while Malaysians of Indian descent comprise 7.1% of the population. Indians began migrating to Malaysia in the early 19th century. The majority of the Indian community are Tamils but various other groups are also present, including Telugus, Malayalis, Punjabis,Bengalis and Gujaratis.

Other Malaysians also include those whose origin, can be traced to the Middle East, Thailand and Indonesia. Europeans and Eurasians include British who settled in Malaysia since colonial times, and a strong Kristang community in Malacca. A small number of Cambodians and Vietnamese settled in Malaysia as Vietnam War refugees.

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