‘Declining Chinese birthrate a global phenomenon’

Toward progress: Attendees clapping at the launch ceremony in Kuala Lumpur. Present at the ceremony are (front row, from left) Dr Sak, Dr Wee and Teng (seated). — ONG SOON HIN/TheStar

KUALA LUMPUR: Chinese communities worldwide are facing a decline in their birthrate, says Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

The MCA president said this includes Malaysia.

“The Chinese in many parts of the world, they don’t have many kids,” he told reporters after launching the Dato’ Teng Gaik Kwan Centre for Early Childhood Education (CECE) in Tunku Abdul Rahman University of Management of Technology (TAR UMT).

“This is the trend that is causing the Chinese population to be declining,” he said, adding that the birthrate for Malays is also dropping.

“This is a very personal (choice),” he said, adding that the government cannot intervene in this decision.

He said that this is due to the challenges young couples face when caring for their children.

This includes ensuring they can afford to send their children for a tertiary education, added Dr Wee.

He said that when Chinese couples calculate the expenses, they tend not to have more children.

“You have to think twice because you have to nurture the younger generation,” he added.

Dr Wee said that while his parents would have had around 10 siblings, his generation would have maybe two or three children.

However, he said that the lunar Year of the Dragon tends to see an increase in the birthrate among Chinese.

While agreeing that the number of Chinese students in Chinese schools (SJKC) will drop, he said that they cannot stop other races from enrolling in the school.

He said currently, around 20% of students in these schools are non-Chinese.

Dr Wee was responding to Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin, who had expressed concern over the declining birthrate among the Chinese community and its impact on SJKC enrolment in a Facebook post on Feb 13.

Sim said 2022 data shows that only 40,000 Malaysian-Chinese were born that year.

“In five years, in 2027, they will enter Year One. Nationally, there are 1,200 SJKC for them to choose from. Assuming all go into SJKC (which is most likely not, because some will go to a private or national school), on average, each SJKC will get only 33 new students,” he said in his post.

During the launch, Dr Wee, who is TARC Education Foundation board of trustees chairman, said: “TAR UMT is poised to lead CECE towards continued progress and development in the provision of quality early childhood education qualification.”

The centre is named after Teng, a former National Wanita MCA chairman who founded the Institute of Childhood Education – Studies and Community Education.

Over the past 30 years, the institute has produced close to 3,000 early childhood educators, said CECE Foundation board of trustees chairman Tan Sri Dr Sak Cheng Lum.

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