So, Malaysia is not a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention. Being one of the countries being burdened with the influx of refugees seeking political asylum, why haven't we sign the convention?
Not many developed nations who are signatories of the Convention are not willing to host the UNHCR tag bearers and some of the world's poorest countries are in fact the largest recipients of them.
But are we mistreating them? According to the Convention, UNHCR status does not permit them to work or do business in the host nations. However, Malaysia is a different case. We just 'let' them do what they want.
How many Rohingya people from the Myanmar-Bangladesh border and refugees whom we 'salvaged' from the war-torn Bosnia in the 1980s are still with us, becoming richer by the day in business ventures which they were 'allowed' to do, and how many Malaysians are getting poorer when their 'suppose to be financial assistance' were given out to help those refugees?
Wisma Putra has to come up with explanations, notably to accusations that the Malaysian way of treating the refugees are 'inhuman and improper' (here).
The vacuum in relation to what may or may not be included in a deal and whether the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will be party to it is becoming the source of dangerous and uninformed commentary on what is the best way to treat asylum seekers reaching our shores.
At the root of many a thesis on why the Malaysian agreement is no good, a deal which we know next to nothing about yet, is the question of whether we should be liaising with Malaysia at all because they are not a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention. This has given rise to the question of how people who will be potentially transferred from Australia, let alone the thousands of others still waiting in Malaysia, will be treated.
The debate is not that different to an issue which vexes many a scholar and government official; whether or not to enter into negotiations with terrorists.The Foreign Ministry too should not undermine such a statement as it will leave a big hole to our foreign policy and its image. Whoever is the pot or the kettle does not matter but the manner in which we assert our points in dealing with such a perception, is.