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Hisham: Boat deal still under discussion

May 25, 2011

The home minister takes critics to task for opposing the asylum-seeker swap plan.

PUTRAJAYA: Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein today slammed those who objected to the asylum-seeker swap deal between Malaysia and Australia, saying it was still under discussion.

“This arrangement is another out of the box and innovative approach, which is still being discussed and yet to be finalised. So, those who are objecting to this… how can they object to something that we have yet to finalise?

“It may have caught many people by surprise but you would find it very difficult to find fault with it as yet, because it is not being rolled out and the objectives are very noble,” he told reporters after chairing a post-Cabinet meeting here today.

The deal – involving 800 boat people from Australia to be sent to Malaysia in exchange for 4,000 genuine refugees from Malaysia – resulted in groups of lawyers and human rights groups, including United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay, condemning the move.

Hishammuddin said the deal was aimed at tackling issues of refugees and migration of people, which had become a world phenomenon, and involving those from strife-torn Libya and Syria.

He said it was also a message to syndicate heads, not to view Malaysia and Australia as a destination (for illegal immigrants) that is “a sure thing” and start taking money from innocent people because there was no guarantee they would end up in the place of their choice.

On the selection of the asylum seekers and refugees, Hishammuddin said it would be jointly made with the involvement of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration.

– Bernama

Also read:

Refugee swap: NGOs keep the heat on

‘Don’t dump asylum seekers in Sabah’


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