Census vital for policymaking

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 17 Sep 2020

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians must participate in the Population and Housing Census 2020 (Census 2020) as it is important for nation building and for the government to allocate funds for the community.

The data collected once in 10 years was also essential for the country to correct its equilibrium, misallocated resources and any imbalance development, said chief statistician of the Statistics Department Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin (pic).

He said failing to participate in the census would impact socio-economic policymaking.

“The consequence of people not cooperating is that they won’t get attention from the government on the area that should be given more resources for development, ” he said.

The country, he said, needed to be developed not just by the government but also the people, by voicing out their concerns through the questions asked in the census.

“If we have good data, we will know at any point of time if the resources are limited.

“We will know where to allocate the money, where to spend, where the unfortunate people and youth are, where unemployment is happening and also where elderly people that need support are.

“The government will then be able to plan, ” he said.

Otherwise, he said the government would end up doing things blindly and lead to misallocation of resources.

“We are living in a world where everything needs to be accounted for and we don’t have to waste the resources, ” he said, adding that data analysed from census also helped businesses.

Dr Uzir said this in response to the discovery that only 1.5 million Malaysians have participated in the e-Census online survey although it has been made available since July 7. The deadline for the e-Census is on Sept 30. Malaysia’s population is currently about 32.7 million.

Malaysians, he said, had the responsibility to do their part to make the census successful.

“Some young citizens don’t even understand the process of the development of the country.

“For them to see the importance, we need to instil awareness and understanding of the census to the people, ” he said.

Uzir said to know the public amenities or facilities in an area, the department had to ask how far the people needed to travel to get to a hospital.

“In a developed country, travelling for over 20km to get to a hospital is considered poor, ” he said, adding that statistics showed that there were less than 500,000 disabled citizens registered with the government.

“In theory, the number should be 10% of the entire population, ” he said, adding that the census was important for every citizen to be accounted for and to voice their needs.

Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Malaysia socio-economic research centre executive director Lee Heng Guie said the small sample size would not fully reflect the objective of the census, which is to gauge the structural change of all aspects of the population.

Lee said the information gathered from the census would cover housing, occupation, schooling, social relations and others that would help in the planning and sharing of the country’s socio-economic development programmes, including development of schools, hospitals, roads and public transport over the next 10 years.

“The census will collect information and data so as to have a better understanding of the well-being of people living in the country.

“In this regard, a lower participation rate would under-represent the whole of Malaysia, ” he said.

As such, Lee said it was important for Malaysians to fill up the census.

Sunway University economics Prof Dr Yeah Kim Leng urged Malaysians to participate in the census to ensure that the government had better information and a more detailed analysis of the socio-economic conditions of the people to enable them to formulate the right policy response.

“If the participation rate is low, then it will not be reliable and representative. This will lead to wrong interpretations where policy implications will also have an impact especially in areas that are not reflected in the results. The government then may not be able to provide the allocation needed or to design policy responses, ” he said.

Malaysians’ tidak apa (don’t care) attitude was why many did not take the initiative to complete the e-Census, Prof Yeah said.

“There is also the lack of appreciation of the importance of the survey. I think people need to be educated as such data collection is very critical for policy decision and design, ” he said.

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