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Refugee swap: ‘State sanctioned trafficking’

 | August 11, 2011

Selangor exco Teresa Kok criticises Malaysia and Australia for treating human lives as a money making commodity.

PETALING JAYA: The refugee swap deal between Malaysia and Australia is nothing more than state sanctioned human trafficking, said Selangor exco and state DAP leader Teresa Kok.

Referring to a statement by Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein yesterday, she said it was appalling that the government could treat human lives as a money making commodity.

“And the exchange of money involved in the swap is vulgar,” she added.

Hishammuddin said that Malaysia was still prepared to receive refugees from Australia in a bid to tackle the human trafficking syndicate.

“The agreement remains the best way to tackle the menace of people traffickers in a way that protects the interests of Australia, Malaysia and above all, the immigrants involved,” he said.

The RM900 million deal, inked in July, would see 4,000 refugees, currently residing in Malaysia, sent to Australia and 800 asylum seekers from Down Under redirected here over the next four years.

However, the Australian High Court threw a spanner into the works on Monday when it granted an injunction against the swap after refugee advocates challenged the legality of the agreement.

‘Allow refugees here to work’

Kok said the deal puts the country’s security at risk as the refugees would not be screened by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in contrast to the refugees living in Malaysia.

“Some may not be genuine refugees. Their backgrounds, language ability, work skills are unclear and dubious. Hishammuddin hasn’t got a clue who he is welcoming onto our shores,” she said.

The DAP leader added that it was possible that the unscreened refugees might have a criminal background and links to underground syndicates.

“And based on statements made by the Australian government, the 800 will be allowed to work and move freely in Malaysia. Hishammuddin is inviting problems into our homes,” she warned.

Kok then offered a solution to the Malaysian refugee problem; allow the ones already in the country to work.

She said the Labour Department itself had reported that the nation needed workers in several sectors, with Selangor alone needing about 60,000.

And that shortage, she added, made it tough for industrialists to open or expand their business in Malaysia.

“Allowing them to work would be beneficial for our economy. As for the refugees, it would give them the opportunity to earn an income and provide them with a sense of human dignity,” she said.

Also read:

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Aussie High Court stalls asylum swap plan


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