We play host to about 95,000 refugees, most of whom are Burmese, the rest are Bosnians, Sri Lankans, Somalians and others. We are not even a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention and yet the country has been the subject of bad disposition by the world, including the UNHCR for what was described as Malaysia's shortcoming in treating them.
Even our agreement with Australia was met with opposition. The matter was referred to court and it looks like there would not be any deal after all (here).
Yes, we have yet to ratify the Convention but Malaysia is among a few countries which received the most numbers of refugees over the last three decades. Since the arrival or the Vietnamese boat people on the Hai Hong during the late 1970s, followed by the Palestinians, Bosnians and the Rohingyas, we became the epicenter of world attention.
However, our goodwill was never appreciated. Even most signatories of the Convention were mum over our calls for their assistance to 'extract' some of the refugees from our compound. A few did it only on special grounds - age, race and religion.
Worst still, the UNCHR does not seem to bother much about our treatment. Their agents here are more driven to find faults in our treatment to the refugees, especially the Burmese (here). Some NGOs and Malaysians working for the Commission are also taking our goodwill to rag, expecting the government to give the refugees equal treatment as the locals - provide them with good housing scheme, work, education, etc.
While our laws forbid the refugees from working and doing business, there have been calls for the laws be amended. But those who made such calls failed to notice how many of these refugess, especially the Burmese, have been living comfortably since their arrival. Many of them are into business (few of which do employ locals).
Our punishment by canning a few refugees who flouted the laws was blown out of proportion by foreign media. The Burmese, especially, are getting UNHCR special attention to the extent that the non-refugees Burmese are riding on the advantages.
There are a few hundred thousands Burmese in Malaysia, most of whom are illegal immigrants. They are not refugees. However, the UNHCR treats each and every of them as 'in its custody'.
This has led to some complications during the 6P program launched by the government recently. Only a handful of the illegal Burmese immigrants was registered. Why? Almost all of them would flush their UNHCR card at appointed 6P agents and also at the Immigration officials. They already become big-headed.
I wonder where did the UNHCR cards come from? If not from the Commission itself, it must be the work of some bogus agents trying to lucre and take opportunities from the complexity of the situation. And the UNHCR should be blamed for failing to monitor and distinguish who - among the Burmese - should be accorded the card with.
So, what is our next move?
I think its time to go back to enforcement, I mean full enforcement. First, the Home Ministry should identify the illegal immigrants among the UNHCR cardholders, nab them and send them home.
Its our rights to do so. The UNHCR must acknowledge the fact that only 90,000 Burmese are refugees, the rest are those who entered the country to work, do business and reside illegally. And parallel with the immigration procedures of other countries, they must be deported.
Reading a report by Free Malaysia Today, more needs to be done than just identifying and separating them. The Embassy of Myanmar in Kuala Lumpur, which usually refuses comments of such issues, must give full cooperation.
We have and are doing our best to accommodate them - the refugees and the illegals. While the world is not saying 'thank you' to us, we must stop being the 'nice people' around. This is our country, and as much as we are made to respect the laws in other countries, we expect them to reciprocate.
To KDN, just FLUSH THEM OUT... (Unless we want to grant them with full citizenship and enable them to vote in the next general election!)
PS: Do you know that some UNHCR refugees (who got special treatment from the authorities) are among major employers in the Klang Valley? Superb, isn't it?