There will be an increase in the number of Rohingya boat people coming to Malaysia, warned Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani.
Zafar, who is president of the Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia, said in a press statement yesterday that this bigger impact on Malaysia is only to be expected following the Feb 1 military coup.
And indeed the news about the latest Malaysia-bound Rohingya boat is its rescue yesterday by India’s coast guard.
BELOW: File photo showing one of the many, many Rohingya boats
After an emergency search-and-rescue operation earlier yesterday, the Rohingya boat was found adrift in the Andaman Sea.
The boat with 90 Rohingya had left Cox’s Bazar on Feb 11, heading for Malaysia — see NST Feb 22 headline below.
Malaysia is the main destination for Rohingya seeking refugee status.
Human Rights Watch’s Phil Robertson said in a talk last month:
“the primary destination for Rohingya fleeing Bangladesh has always been Malaysia, where there is a sizable and growing Rohingya community, a generally sympathetic government – at least until 2020 – and ample manual labour jobs and a growing economy.”
Note that Robertson, who is Deputy Director of HRW’s Asia division, referenced the “Rohingya fleeing Bangladesh“; they were not fleeing Myanmar in fear for their lives.
“This [journey to Malaysia] has also been a constant factor throughout the years,” Robertson said in his talk titled ‘The Rohingya refugee crisis: Reflections from the region’.
The Rohingya do not seek asylum in Thailand even though they cross Thailand before reaching Malaysia.
From the Malaysian stepping stone, some of these Rohingya – like the Vietnamese boat people in an earlier cycle – then try to get themselves to third countries such as USA, Canada and Australia.
Robertson explained to his Kaldor Centre audience in New South Wales, Australia:
“To the extent that the Rohingya previously sought to go on boats to Australia and ended up in Nauru or on Manus Island, it’s worth noting that the profile of those Rohingya were largely persons who had been resident and had established themselves in Malaysia for a number of years, and then were deciding to take the next step.”
Enablers of the Rohingya population transfer attempt are aware of the small boats currently trying to traffick the illegal immigrants direct all the way here to Malaysia.
“What is unfortunate and must be mentioned here is that the new Perikatan Nasional government in Malaysia, which took power in March 2020, has continuously denied access to newly-arrived Rohingya and kept the UNHCR from accessing the immigration detention centres in the country since last year.”
He demanded that this Malaysian government practice to deny access must change.
Robertson has plenty of other criticisms of our country, accusing us also of hate speech and xenophobia. He said:
“But the problem, and this is an issue that also needs to be dealt with, is Malaysia’s positive reception for Rohingya is no longer a given. We’ve seen anti-foreigner xenophobia, combined with COVID-19 pandemic fears, and a change of government which brought the Perikatan Nasional government of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.”
For the ‘human rights’ NGOs, the PN government is worse than the BN government in not welcoming the Rohingya.
“The government increasingly shows that more Rohingya are not welcome. In fact, this past April, there was a massive hate-speech campaign on social media in Malaysia against the Rohingya, which I think that astonished everyone, reminding many people of the bad old days of hate speech against the Rohingya in Myanmar.”