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COMMENT | 'Oh no, the Chinese population in Malaysia is falling!'

COMMENT | In July, Malaysia’s Department of Statistics (DoS) released a population estimate report for 2023, sparking social media discussions.

The invention of population data is a legacy of the Enlightenment in 18th Century Europe - a period which brought modernisation and rationalisation to statecraft.

This era also saw the separation of society and the state. The former became an object that could be objectified, simplified, abstracted, engineered, controlled, and transformed.

Population statistics include various demographic characteristics such as gender, health and disease, and education levels. Other areas covered include literacy rates, occupation, life expectancy, labour participation rate, and productivity. Such statistics, which facilitate taxation and social governance, are a tool of modern statecraft.

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