The Making of the New Malay Middle Class
From the macro-historical analysis in Chapter 3, we now proceed to examine the new Malay middle class in detail, basing our analysis on an empirical study, carried out in 1996 (with follow-ups in 1997, 1998 and 1999), of 284 respondents in the metropolitan Klang Valley, and in two provincial towns – Kota Bharu in Kelantan, and Kuala Terengganu in Terengganu. Table 4.1 shows the basic profiles of respondents in terms of sex, age, marital status and geographical origin. Of the total, 108 respondents (38 per cent) were taken from the Klang Valley, 80 (28.2 per cent) from Kota Bharu, and 96 (33.8 per cent) from Kuala Terengganu. In terms of sex, slightly over two-thirds, or 69.4 per cent, were male. In terms of age, young respondents (aged 30 and below) made up 29.2 per cent; those aged 31–40 years old made up the largest group, totalling 42.2 per cent; those aged 41–50 came to 23.6 per cent; and the oldest group (aged 51 and above) accounted for just under 5 per cent. The proportion of young respondents was highest in the Klang Valley sample (one-third of the sample was made up of those in that age group), while in Kota Bharu and Kuala Terengganu, their proportions were slightly smaller (about one-quarter each).
In terms of marital status, 81.3 per cent were married, 16.9 per cent single, and another 1.8 per cent were either widowed or divorced. Because the Klang Valley sample had the largest proportion of young respondents, it is not surprising that it also had the largest percentage (22.2 per cent) still remaining single. In the sample, those born in rural and urban areas were equal in proportion. However, those who were natives of the urban centres made up 44.5 per cent, while the majority (55.5 per cent) consisted of migrants from elsewhere.