John Menadue writes that opponents of the Malaysia Deal need to think again. Why? What has changed in Malaysia recently in respect of it human rights record that would give anyone any hope that refugees and asylum seekers sent from Australia to Malaysia would be treated any better in the future under this Deal than they have been in the past? There are many reports of refugees being stopped in the street and asked for papers by the Malaysian Police, who may beat the refugee even if the papers are in order. No one believes the assurances of the Malaysian leadership that human rights abuses will not happen to the 800 refugees returned to Malaysia under the arrangements of the Deal. You would have to be very naive!
Malaysia is a very troubled country. It’s Opposition Leader has just faced another cooked up trial for sodomy. The Herald reported on Wednesday 18th January 2012 on the appalling treatment of Cambodian maids by Malaysian families. Malaysian as a society and as a political system has a long way to go in developing respect for the human rights of those who do not fit the dominant paradigm.
There does need to be more regional processing of refugees, as they move forward towards Australia. Why we can’t get governments sorting out how this can happen seems very odd. But perhaps they don’t want to be seen to be being humane. Not popular with the voters in the marginal seats and the focus group participants they are trying to please.