The Department of Statistics has been productive in the past few weeks. Apart from regular monthly statistical releases, the Department has been producing sectoral and yearly reports in relatively large number. One of the latest involves migration report.[1]

There is one surprise from the report that I would want to share. At least, it is surprising to me.

One would expect, economically advanced or rapidly developing states should record net migration. These states should be able to provide opportunities compared to others. The infrastructure and services available should also be better than the rest. I would imagine only states like Selangor or Penang and other states with many large urban areas would record net migration. Just to be clear, I write net migration to mean immigration less emigration.

So, according to the migration report by the Department of Statistics, the states with net migration in 2011, in order from the greatest to the least, were Selangor (17,000 persons), Penang (8,800), Sarawak (5,500) and Kelantan (3,200).


Selangor and Penang are sort of expected. They form the industrial base for the country and there are a lot of jobs available in those states. As for Sarawak, maybe it has to do with Indonesians.

I do not have access to the full report. So, I lack information to comment too much. All I have is a 12-page (more like 6-page because it is a bilingual report) summary. I also am only able to assess 2010 and 2011 data. So, I am unable to see the wider context that a longer time-series data would provide.

Nevertheless, based on the limited information I have, what I find surprising is Kelantan. Here is a state that I find it hard to rationalize why of all states had net migration. One does not think of Kelantan when one thinks of employment opportunities. I suspect the conflict in southern Thailand may have something to do with it.

On the other end of the spectrum, Kuala Lumpur suffered the net emigration but I do not think it is too surprising. Most of the emigrants moved to Selangor. With limited spaces and high cost of living, it is a trend these days to live in new suburban areas close by outside of the capital. And Kuala Lumpur is an enclave of Selangor. So, it is quite possible that the net emigration mostly refers to individuals who moved out of the Kuala Lumpur but still work in or around Kuala Lumpur. So, there is nothing ominous about that.

But what is curious about Selangor is that the wild net migration swing from 2010 and 2011. I cannot explain it too much except that 2011 may see former 2010 emigrants returning to the state. These former emigrants probably did not go to Kuala Lumpur.

For Johor however, it is a different story. The state had the second highest net emigration. With all the developments in Johor, one would expect net migration instead. Nearly 50% of the emigrants from Johor went to Selangor and Malacca combined.

Finally, since on the political front we are busy with the granting of citizenship to aliens in Sabah, here is one last remark. In Sabah, nearly 3.5% of the population are immigrants (I know, someone reading this will exhibit incredulity).


And, aliens in Putrajaya! (But more seriously, migrants refer to those who do not come from the place they live in. Illegal immigrants are probably not counted. Anyway, I am unclear what definition of migrant that the Department uses. Need to do research on that. But the qualification is probably some years or below in a state. I would imagine single digit years.)

Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved

[1] — [Migration Survey Report 2011. Department of Statistics. January 29 2013]

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