Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Are Sabahans breeding like rabbits?

Wed, Nov 25, 2009


Sabah’s population growth rate is almost twice higher than the national average of about 3.2%. Why is this so? EDWIN BOSI of DAP enlightens us.

WHEN Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya merged to form Malaysia, Sabah contributed about a third of the land mass.

Census reports put the population of Sabah in 1947 at 320,500. In 2000, this figure was 2,449,389. The average national growth rate is about 3.2%.

In Sabah, there are spikes in the population growth rate that merit attention. These growth rates which were of interest are 1971–1975 (6.3%), 1976–1980 (4.4%), 1980–1991 (5.69%), 1986–1988 (3.4%), 1988–1995 (3.4%) and 1991–1995 (5.5%).

It is therefore interesting to analyse the “breeding” pattern of Sabahans.

Armed Conflict in southern Philippines

During the USNO era (1963–1975), there was a surge in “breeding” activity especially between 1971-1975. The growth rate then was reported a staggering 6.3%.

It was during this time there was armed conflict in the southern Philippines. The influx of refugees into Sabah may be the reason behind the sharp upward spike.

The Berjaya era came from 1976–1985. Again there was a huge population growth, above 4%. The conflict in southern Philippines continued and more refugees streamed into Sabah.

The PBS era from 1985–1995 marked a growth rate of about 3.4%. However, in the 1991-1995 period, the growth rate was registered at 5.5% — but there was no more armed conflict in the southern Philippines.

So what was a plausible explanation? There was a huge increase in the number of Indonesians working in the oil palm plantations and this could be attributed for the massive jump in the population of Sabah.

Special Identification Papers

In 1931, the Sarawak population was about 600,000 and in 2000, about 2 million. On the other hand, Sabah’s registered 270,233 population in 1931, shot up to 2.4 million in 2000. Furthermore, in 2003, Sabah’s population stood at about 2.8 million — an increase of about 400,000 within three years!

Sabah’s population growth rate is about twice higher than the national average. But why do population surveys indicate Sabahans are multiplying like rabbits?

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