Asylum seekers and boat people - the Malaysian way
by blogger BUJAI (Jailani Harun)
(Note: A good read. Interesting to see some of the comments. I've picked up some to be shared here at the bottom of this posting - tun)
Update: Eric Paulsen. the co-founder of Lawyers for Liberty, a human rights and law reforms organisation based in Malaysia says Malaysia is the worst place for refugees as they are being treated like 'shit' (read here)
Malaysia and Australia are expected to sign the 'asylum deal' tomorrow. Despite being a non-signatory to the United Nations' Refugee Convention, Malaysia has been very consistent with its boat people policy, treating them well and allowing them to work and live here although Australia and some developed nations deplore it bluntly.
Under the original proposal – which may by now have been updated during negotiations between the two governments and UNHCR – 800 asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia by boat would be exchanged with 4,000 of Malaysia's already processed refugees.
It needs to be remembered that the Malaysia deal is one part of a more comprehensive policy response to unauthorised boat arrivals that also includes maintaining development assistance in conflict-affected countries, capacity-building in transit countries, especially in South East Asia, and a raft of anti-smuggling measures.
The deal has been widely criticised but both governments deserves some credit. First, it is clearly taking seriously the increase in unauthorised boat arrivals in Australia over the last two years or so, and Malaysia's good record in protecting the refugees.
There is a separate debate to be had about whether what are still relatively small numbers of boat arrivals really merit such a dramatic response, but clearly their political significance outweighs their numerical significance, and both governments had to respond. They have responded within the law, and with the cover of UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees).
The arrival of a further 4,000 refugees would increase by about 50 per cent Australia's 2010 resettlement quota, taking it past Canada to be the second largest refugee resettlement country in the world.
However, critics - especially from some Western human rights organisations - are showing serious concern about the prospects for the 800 asylum seekers who will be exchanged.
As Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and thus is not bound to respect principles such as 'non-refoulment' which guards against refugees being returned home against their will. UNHCR had earlier told Malaysia not to deport them to the country from which they fled.
Read more at -
Read also some good comments;
jimmy the tailor said...
tell me, which country gives better care to refugees apart from malaysia?
even australia is not so friendly to foreigners for its racism.
UNHCR should consider what malaysia has done in the past in dealing with refugees and asylum seekers. the country has helped a lot but has come under heavy criticism.
Malaysia allows refugees registered with the UNHCR to live in the community, rather than detaining them as Australia does, but as families wait years for resettlement, their access to health services and community-run schools is limited by meagre incomes.
Illegal foreign workers in Malaysia are routinely rounded up by police, and it is this risk of arrest if refugees are caught working, or without identity documents, that has caused the greatest problems for its 95,000 asylum seekers.
The Malaysian government embarked this month on a program to fingerprint all 2 million legal foreign workers before an amnesty on August 1 for illegal workers. The biometric registration is designed to overcome the trading of blackmarket identity documents.
To counter accusations Australia has abrogated its responsibilities under the Refugee Convention, the federal government has promised millions of dollars to expand the UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration's operations in Malaysia, and has said it will fund the education, health and resettlement costs of the 800 ''transportees'', who will be clearly identified to Malaysian authorities.
How this will be done needs to be spelt out in today's bilateral agreement, which the Gillard government will publish, and two separate deals with the UNHCR and IOM.
let us hope the best for all.
jeremiah, brisbane said...
The comments by Mr Guterres mark the first time he has spoken publicly about the dilemma the Malaysia plan has created for the refugee agency.
While he did not go into detail on sticking points, the UNHCR has in the past expressed concern about the legal right to work for people to be sent from Australia, protection for unaccompanied children, and access to healthcare and education. It also insists that asylum seekers not be returned to their country of origin if this puts them in danger.
Mr Guterres's hesitation is a blow for the australian government, which has been working on a compromise with Malaysia and had been confident negotiations were being finalised. There are more than 300 asylum seekers sitting in limbo on Christmas Island who Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has said will be processed in another country.
i hope he comes to his senses.