|Documentation for the Workshop /
Country Papers : Malaysia
Country Paper: MALAYSIA
1. Overview of census
1.1 The Population and Housing Census, Malaysia, 2000 was held on 5th of
July 2000 for a period of two weeks. The 2000 census provides a wealth of information on
the number of persons and household with a wide range of demographic characteristics. This
census was the fourth decennial census since the formation of Malaysia in 1963. The
Department of Statistics was appointed by the Malaysian Government to carry out the census
since 1970 and the division that is responsible for the planning is the Population and
Housing Census Division.
1.2 The contact person in the division is The Director of Population and Housing Census
Division (email address email@example.com or by fax number 03-88889224).
2. Brief summary of census
2.1 Information on disability was first collected in the 1980 Census and was confined
to only three categories that is Blind, Deaf/Dumb and
Other. However the data was not published. The 2000 Census attempted to obtain
a more detailed classification and included types of disability such as sight, hearing,
speech, limbs, mental and others. The information can be cross-tabulated with demographic
characteristics like gender, age, ethnic group and marital status. The data was collected
for the planners in both the government and private sector who are directly involved with
the disable, to improve their facilities, welfare, training and other services. During
preparation for the questions, other departments such as the Ministry of Welfare Services
was also involved in deciding what type of information to collect.
2.2 The definition of handicap during the census 2000 referred to Persons who
experience losses, changes or abnormality either physically, body structure, nervous
system, functions of an organ and mental or physical disability. It may happen before or
after childbirth either on temporary or permanent (defined as handicap for more than six
(6) month). The condition either fully or partially hinders the social and community needs
of an individual in terms of the cultural and physical environment.
2.3 Types of disable are as follows:
Includes blind persons, those with poor eyesight, low vision and loss of both eyes.
Those with poor eyesight wearing spectacles or contact lenses and those with
corrected eyesight are not included in this category.
Inclusive of deafness, partial deafness, loss of hearing (but able to speak) resulting
in difficulty with study at school and prospects in suitable employment or being
Inclusive of inability to speak (dumb) normally having difficulty studying at normal
schools and also less prospects in getting suitable employment or being self-employed.
Inclusive of handicaps such as amputation of hand/feet, paralysis (including polio),
weak backbone or muscles, deformed body structure, dwarfs etc. Loss of a small body
parts such as a finger is not considered as being handicapped.
Includes slow learners, brain damage and mental disorder. A person with mental
disorder is defined by imbalance between biological and mental age. Also includes
cerebral palsy or spastic due to brain damage caused by virus infections, hemorrhage etc,
leading to brain dysfunction.
Mental disorder can refer to two categories:
- Psychological not included in the definition of mental disorder
Inclusive of autism
3. Scope of census
The 2000 Census provides a wealth of information on the number of persons and
households together with a wide range of their demographic characteristics. In addition,
it also yields information on the number and types of living quarters as well as the
availability of basic amenities. There are three parts to the questionnaire, i.e.:
- Living quarters particulars such as type of living quarters, construction
material of outer walls, drinking water and electricity supply, type of toilet facility,
garbage collection and number of bedrooms.
- Household particulars such as availability household items, ownership of living
quarters and tenancy.
- Person particulars such as gender, age, marital status, ethnic group, religion,
citizenship, education, occupation, industry and handicap.
4. Response and non-response and data collection
The Population and Housing Census 2000 were done by face-to-face interviews. There are
consistency checks and edits and imputation done to clean and improve the data especially
for non-response cases. Any person of the household who is capable to answer the questions
is accepted as the respondent. About 30 questions were asked. There are 8 languages used
in the census (Malay the national language, English, Chinese, Tamil, Iban, Kadazan,
Japanese and Korean).
5. Error Measurement
5.1 To minimize error during the census, several a pilot tests on the questionnaire was
done. A Trial Census one year before the actual census, provided a dress rehearsal for the
implementation of the project. Immediately following the Census 2000, a Post Enumeration
Survey (PES) was undertaken to study the extent of under-enumeration in the census and to
evaluate several aspects of coverage and content.
5.2 The processing activity was divided into two phases that is, manual
processing and computer processing. In phase one, the questionnaire underwent checks for
completeness and in phase two underwent coding of questions relating to education,
migration, occupation and industry were done.
5.3 Training was carried out at various levels, i.e.:
- Centralized training of trainers
- Training at the State / District levels was done by headquarters officers from the
Department of Statistics
- Training to Supervisors
- Training to Enumerators by Supervisors. This was done in small groups (2 3
Supervisors with about 15 20 enumerators) to ensure effective training.
5.4 The data collected for disability from the census has not
been published, as there has been significant undercount of the number of cases. The
numbers derived from the census when compared with the number of disabled registered with
the Ministry of Welfare Services, was very low. Obviously poor response for the question
from the respondent as well as possible reluctance of enumerators to ask the question
during the interview, could have contributed to this.
6. Highlights of the strengths and limitations of census
6.1 The strengths of the census is:
- International standards were used for all topics in the census and reference was made to
the UN Recommendation for Population and Housing Census especially in terms of
concepts, definitions and classifications. Updates to classifications such as occupation
and industry were also taken into consideration.
- Considerable experience gained from past censuses was strength. The first census that
was completely handled by the Department of Statistics was for the year 1970.
Continuity of experiences gained from the 1970, 1980, 1991 censuses has been of great
value to the preparation for 2000 Census. The documentation of previous censuses has been
useful reference to the planners.
- Thus far, Malaysian censuses have been carried out for 100% coverage of the total
population inspite of the cost involved. This has been valuable especially for small areas
6.2 The limitations of census is:
- Respondent overload due to the number of question. The 2000 Census consisted of 30
questions for person particulars. The average time taken to enumerate each household was
about 20 to 30 minutes and it created a burden on both enumerators and respondents.
- Disability has been recognized as a sensitive question, especially for inclusion in a
large-scale enumeration like a census. Therefore, collection of accurate data can be a
- Growing setback to face to face interviews
7. Registers and the ministry/organization responsible for
7.1 There are a number of ministries/organizations that are
involved in providing services for the disabled. The type of services provided by each of
them is different and related to the ministry/organization. These are as follows:
- Department of Welfare Services
- Ministry of Health
- Ministry of Local Government and Housing
- Ministry of Rural Development
- Inland Revenue Department
- Ministry of Education (Special Education)
- Department of Registration
- Social Security Organization
7.2 The ministries/organizations are directly involved with the
handicapped are the Department of Welfare Services, Ministry of Health and Ministry of
Education (Special Education).
7.3 Brief summary of registers
a. Department of Welfare Services
The definition of person with disabilities for this ministry is based on WHO
Any person unable to ensure by himself wholly or partly, the necessities
of a normal individual and or social life, as a result of deficiency either congenital or
not, in his physical or mental capabilities, which may have happened before or after
There are 4 categories of disabilities that are identified, i.e.: limbs, sight,
hearing (including dumb) and mental. The existence of the services is to help the
handicapped be independent and achieve their potential in everything that is within their
To achieve that, the Rehabilitation Division, which constitutes the Services
Institution and External Services, provides activities in the programs for the handicap.
b. Ministry of Health
The definition of person with disabilities is based on WHO definitions. The ministry
gets the information and data collected through hospitals for inpatients (those admitted
for treatment). Data on types of disabilities collected are visual disability, hearing,
speech, physical, mental retardation, mental disabilities (include behavior problem,
autism, hyperactive etc and others).
c. Ministry of Local Government and Housing
Disability refers to Persons who are disabled in terms of physical, hearing or
sight that limits their mobility or usage of building facilities.
Under Ministry of Local Government and Housing Act (1990 amendment) it was noted that a
building where the public can access should provide facilities like ramps, parking for
disabled, toilet etc. They also provide 6% of special flat units under Public Housing
Projects to the handicapped to choose ground floor in the case of walk-up flat and first
floor where lifts are provided.
7.4 At present, a few meetings with the government agencies
that provide services to the handicapped have been held. The aim of the meetings was to
standardize the definition and classification of the disabled and identifies the functions
and level of involvement of all agencies. The definition needs to be more
broad, global, uniform,systematic and comprehensive and suit all the government agencies
involved. The goal is develop a database of all handicapped persons that can be accessed
and used by all agencies for planning and implementation of programs.
SITI ZAKIAH BT. MUHAMAD ISA
Population and Housing Census Division
for Chief Statistician
Department of Statistics,
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