Malay-Aussie Refugee Deal to Go Despite Protest by Rights Groups
20 May 2011 – KUALA LUMPUR: The refugee and asylum seeker swap deal between Malaysia and Australia is still on despite protest from Bar Councils and non-government organizations (NGOs) in both countries.
Malaysian Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein has explained that the deal is a pioneering, courageous and cutting-edge solution to tackle people smuggling worldwide.
“All worries (from Bar Councils and NGOs) have been taken into account. We roped in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) much earlier in discussions.”
“The government would not have announced this deal unless all parties concerned were on-board,” he said.
The minister was responding to reports of lawyers and human rights groups condemning the swap deal which would see 800 people trying to get to Australia by boat being taken immediately back to Malaysia in exchange for the country resettling of 4,000 refugees from Malaysia over a period of four years.
Hishammuddin said the details of the swap between the two countries will only be revealed once he has discussed these with his counterpart from Australia.
“The agreement is one-off, but we will want to institutionalize it if it works out,” he said.
Reporting by Thomas Chong