Aussie-Malay Refugee Deal Heated Malaysian Parliament
25 June 2011 – KUALA LUMPUR: The un-finalized refugee and asylum seeker swap deal between Malaysian and Australian governments has put Malaysian Parliament in a chaotic situation on Thursday.
War of words started when an opposition Parliamentarian, M. Kulasegaran argued that the swap is inappropriate as it will make outsiders thought Malaysia as a country full of asylum seekers.
The country’s Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, however defended that the deal with the Australia Government is realistic and practical as it has involved talks with all related stakeholders including the UNHCR.
Not satisfied with the answer, Kulasegaran raised his voice and demanded Hishammuddin to answer why Malaysia is not signing the 1951 Refugees Convention.
The Lower House soon became noisy with voices from both opposition and government Parliamentarians.
House speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin, intervened to stop the chaos and Kulasegaran was reprimanded for accusing the Home Minister as a liar.
The swap deal would see 800 boat peoples trying to get to Australia being taken to Malaysia in exchange for the country resettling of 4,000 refugees from Malaysia over a period of four years.
When it is finalized, the deal will give more resettlement opportunities for Burmese refugees in Malaysia while putting more barriers for asylum seekers from Southern Asia and Middle East who try to enter Australia directly from their country.
Reporting by Thomas Chong