Dear Asian Refugees (presumably from Myanmar, Cambodia, Sri Lanka or Iran),
Congratulations for making that treacherous journey by boat to Australia! Unfortunately, that would have been the peak of your success and only the beginning of the consequences of making poor decisions.
When you landed safely on Australian shores, the first people you met were probably the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. They probably glanced at you wearily and sent you off to some refugee holding centre.
While you were waiting in that centre, an agreement was made by the Australian government with its Malaysian counterparts. They wanted to exchange refugees.
If you could only read or hear of this news, you would be horrified. Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN refugee convention. It treats its refugees very badly. It abuses those who try to protect, help and speak out for refugees as well.
Like Irene Fernandez for example, who in 1995, published a report on the abuse of migrant workers, cataloguing the malnutrition, physical and sexual abuse and the appalling conditions and the detention camps where they end up and where many of them die. She was arrested at home and charged with ‘maliciously publishing false news’.
You may say that it happened long ago and that conditions have since improved. You would be very wrong. I recently met this person, who for some reason, has a heart for the downtrodden.
In Malaysia, "downtrodden" could refer to a number of groups, including the rural poor, urban poor, non-Muslims, but it is most significantly applied to the group of people called "refugees".
This acquaintance of mine chanced upon a number of detention camps for refugees and she thinks that Irene Fernandez was grossly understating the conditions. Most of these camps are under the watch of RELA.
RELA is a paramilitary organisation that can only be formed under an Emergency. We are currently under 4 emergency rules which have yet to be lifted. These rules are still being enforced so that it allows the UMNO government more leeway to do things within its discretion.
Unfortunately, there are no rules to govern what RELA can or cannot do, as they are an ad-hoc organisation. They know it, so they pretty much do as they please, including having their way with refugees.
My acquaintance told me that the refugees quake in fear when the RELA members as much as just walk past. If you are unaware of what I am trying to say, please watch the movie, 'The Kite Runner' about life in Afghanistan. It would be an eye-opener to you, though I wager most of you (and not just you, but most Malaysians as well) would come away traumatised.
This acquaintance of mine, if caught, can be charged with aiding and abetting because she brings along food to eat when she pays them a visit.
Don't get me wrong. I know that you refugees do not come about because you're bored. In a previous post, I once said, "Something drastic must have caused these people to flee their homeland. Often it is war. Sometimes it is the tyranny of the tin-pot dictators. People don't become refugees in search of a better lifestyle; they become refugees because they have no other choice."
Sometimes, I really wonder if you did have a choice, to begin with. Why didn't you fight the oppressors in your home country? The biggest group of refugees in Malaysia are the Myanmarese -- the Chins and Rohingyas -- why didn't you do something before you let your country get to that sorry state??
The rest of the world is fighting against their oppressors. In many instances, they are the men in white collars. In other countries, it is the men in military uniforms. The Americans have decided to stop taking it lying down! And consequently, we have the Wall Street Occupation, speaking out against the bullying and thieving done by the white collars.
We Malaysians have woken up as well. We refuse to let the select few rape and plunder.
But this exchange program between the Australian and Malaysian governments are for a reason. They want to naturalise you refugees and give you citizenship and voting rights in exchange for your votes. They say there is no such thing as a free lunch. They, whoever they are, are right indeed.
So for your rights to live and start your new life, you will be violating our rights to a free and democratic government. And frankly, that is what upsets us. It is not your presence here in this country. It is your political role.
And for that reason alone, we don't want you. Nothing personal.