FOR the past one week, the phrase boat people has been one of the most talked about subjects. When news broke that more than a thousand people from Bangladesh and Myanmar had landed on our shores in Langkawi Island, reports have been trickling in that there are more boats out at sea, ferrying these victims of human trafficking syndicates. The dilemma right now is whether Malaysia should allow them in or turn them away. We asked our Facebook readers to share their thoughts on this, and here are a compilation of some of their comments.Janani Devaraja: Let them in of course. That is the right thing to do. It is cruel to suggest otherwise. One day too, we may all be in that situation and do we want other countries to turn their backs on us and let us starve?Nur Qistina: I think we should accept them. Implement a scheme that would be a win-win situation for both. Instead of importing workers from Nepal or Bangladesh or Indonesia; we can come up with a scheme where the Rohingyans are a source of income. Gradually we pay them, but we pay them for their work to allow them to gather enough money, have a life and actually have a chance at starting fresh (not necessarily in Malaysia, we would need regional Asean participation). Afterwards, they are able to move. I believe this would be a win-win situation because they would prove to be beneficial and would contribute to the country economically and Malaysia’s conscience would be cleared. Malaysia should also be showing a good example given its seat as the leader of Asean. Alas, Malaysia disappoints. This is a very raw idea and I’m looking to develop it further. thoughts are welcomed. However, Asean could help with developing it further too with the control of borders and allowing other Asean countries to accept the refugees.Justin Ceaser: Turn away. We need to focus on reforms and nation development. Enough of unwanted migrants already.Joanita Joseph: The best example is Sabah regarding immigrants from the Philippines and Indonesia. You want to let them in, start new life? They’ll increase crime rate, take away your women as to get PR (permanent residence status), take away business opportunities from deserving locals, stay on your land and you can’t chase them away as their barbaric style will cost you fear, dirty your malls and roads and schools, spread indecency and many more. The right thing to do is to temporarily feed them, clothe them and send them back. Allow this group to enter and more will enter illegally later. If they wanna come and work, please respect this country’s law by following proper immigration procedures. If they can’t even respect that, which is basic, they’ll spell nothing but disaster to the nation. Turning them back is not inhumane. They’re the results of human trafficking. Keeping them only means we are clearly involved in this issue, and shows that this country has no stand on its immigration law. Respect our immigration law or else get out. As for our GST (Goods and Services Tax) monies, there are many poor people around this nation who needs attention. Sabah and Sarawak for example needs good roads. Sabah is the poorest state in Malaysia. Instead of spending our tax monies on them why not look into our own problems first, which are more serious. Why not feed our own homeless and clothe our own fakir miskin (poor) first? Jangan jadi kera di hutan disusukan, anak di rumah kelaparan (old Malay adage which literally translates to feeding a monkey in the forest whilst leaving your child at home starving).Bryan Yeow: At least let them recover from the torturous journey first. Then send them back slowly. Rejecting them now is like giving them a death sentence!ES Chua: Nobody wants to leave their own homeland and risk their lives for no reason. Letting them in is only a short term solution. We must tackle the root cause, which is the Myanmar government itself. The Asean nation must put pressure on the Myanmar government and make them accountable, and do something over this issue.Chern Xun Gan: Deport them. Don’t turn into the second UK (United Kingdom) where refugees turn up on their shores illegally and proceed to claim benefits meant for the poor and elderly. Deport them back if they came here illegally, but of course abide by the legal process.Rs Raj: Don’t destroy our Malaysia. Just give them food. Enough of foreigners in our country. So many issues unsolved in our country.Fadrul Hisham: They are human beings. We are no better than them. Only we need to carefully manage them so that they won’t create other problems. We are more happy our GST money goes for humanitarian purposes rather than building another skyscraper.
Isabell Soo: Wow. I didn’t know so many heartless people we have in Malaysia. Leaving people out there to die because of economic reasons. At least let them recover from this whole situation. Try to imagine you yourself on board.Siti Atie Atka: I say, don’t help them, but rather, SAVE them. This is not the case of charity but it’s more of humanity. If we can condemn Israel for their occupation (of Palestine), we are definitely more than able to slam, condemn, boycott Myanmar for their mass killing of this innocent ethnic. They are also human. Their social and life conditions make them less fortunate, but definitely not less human than us. And if we are still humane, we should shelter them. This country is ours, and it’s up to us to greedily seek after materialistic gains, or to serve a better good with it. I believe if everyone in Malaysia is less selfish, stop fighting and dividing ourselves because of politics and economics, and start looking after each other in the name of love for humanity, and as kind Malaysians, we’d be much happier people, Insya-Allah (God willing).Walter Tan: On humanitarian grounds, please let them in. It’s not their fault as they are looking for survival for themselves as well as their families back home. The culprits are the traffickers who suck them of their life savings with the promise of a better future. All the government can do is to give them temporary shelter and food while thinking of a solution on how to help their pitiful plight.Bibiana Peter: On humanitarian grounds yes, but we may already be broke, where do we go from here really?? Our rakyat may suffer in the long run too, it’s sickening and cruel that Myanmar and Bangladesh are ignoring their very existence. This is a heart-breaking dilemma. We should consider helping them first as shared by Bryan Yeow.Billie Jean: Help them. Yes. Letting them in? No no. Enough of immigrants here. Some of our own Malaysians don’t even possess a job and struggling to find something to satisfy their tummy and for their children’s need and with this in between? Adding salt to the wound, I guess. If this Malaysia is well-developed, then no problem! What happened if suddenly Malaysia dropped to Third World? Trust me, most of these (people) will join some of the culprits here to set up a big gang to conduct crimes. That time, no point regretting over spilt milk. Help them Malaysian government. They are human too but after everything is settled, send them back ASAP (as soon as possible)! Thank you.Nisha Manoheran: Two things are clear to me: 1) There need to be international pressure on Burma (Myanmar) to stop the persecution of its minorities. 2) That helpless sick starving refugees shouldn’t be sent to their deaths at sea. Realistically, how much do you care for your fellow human? (Not much, judging from most comments) and if you care, what can we as an international community do about it?Yogi Raman: These people should be allowed to enter Malaysia on humanitarian grounds. Consult with the relevant authorities to find solution for the issues.Jane Goh: All the Asean countries should help. It is not the problem of Malaysia. There is nothing cruel to send them away. Blame it on the country that first rejected them. What are all the leaders of Asean countries doing?Robyn Choi: The problem with Rohingyas and Bangladeshis in this case – if we take them in, we must be prepared to keep them for a long time because no other countries are willing to accept them, not even if UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) has processed and gave them refugee status. They are stateless. So, before we accept them, decide what will we do with stateless persons – and a huge group of them at that. And if there are no place where we can send them, then what? I have no answers. But for now, if lives are threatened — we must help. We cannot leave them to die. That will be wrong.Sonia Saxeena: Nope… Why some people call others heartless, when they say no? It’s not about heart or no heart. If someone is talking about heart, can you enter the US (United States of America) with your kind heart as a Visa? Time grow up kids. We have borders and that’s involving our accountability and dignity as a nation. The future, safety and security of the nation for the next generation depends on us. If you see illegal immigrants sitting beside you like a Malaysian, that’s called security breach and total failure of immigration law enforcement. There is no such thing as welcoming illegal entries in one’s country.Che Noran Mohd Jelas: Refugees should be adopted not only on humanitarian grounds but also as a reflection for certain community of Malaysians on how lucky and grateful they should be to Iive and breathe in this bountiful, peaceful country we call home.Ricky Roy: We are human in the first place. This question should not arise. We are supposed to give them basic needs like food and medical treatment first. Then discuss with the UN (United Nations) for their long term solutions. UN should advise Asean countries to accept them equally.Eugene Leong: Let them in. I would contribute what I can. Where would they go if we do not (let them in)? They would probably die on the boats or could be executed if they return to Myanmar. Yes, there is a cost. But are we such shallow people that we put the cost of feeding and sheltering the needy before a human life?Weng Yew: If they come with good deed and in a legal way, door is always open. But if illegal way with bad deed, please send them back in proper way.Zara Davies: Yes. This planet belongs to all of us.Kutu Kampung: They are human beings like us and it’s our obligation and responsibility to help them.Victor Chew: Do what our government did to the Vietnamese! Place them in a deserted island. Get UN and other richer countries for aid. Allow NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to go in and help with education, health, etc. Those with skills, education should be given permit to be employed by Malaysian companies or individuals. Plan to move them out to a third country which can absorb them under their refugees program. Send back non-political refugees!Halim Hassan: Reopen Pulau Bidong and send them there. Then get UN to transfer them to a third country.Mervin Yong Siew Leong: Let them in. Face the facts that these are refugees. Syndicates are bringing more Vietnamese, Thais and Chinese gals in daily. Only difference is that there is no undertable involved here.Gurcharran Bedi: Be allowed in as transit point.Hemamalni Ogdd: Specifically Rohingya, please allow them, they are already suffering at their motherland but please ensure that their welfare is taken cared of. If we can, why not provide shelter on humanitarian grounds.Aiman Afiq: Let them in. In 1957, the same thing happened to non-Bumiputeras. I am just wondering why after more than 50 years, few of them don’t permit it. Maybe we forgot about the history? Or we lost our humanity?Pradhivan Michael Gurusamy: Actually, just to understand, why are we under pressure to accept them in? We can temporarily house them here. That’s the humane thing to do. But underline temporary. After which, UN will need to step in and either resolve the issue with the origin country or relocate them equally across the region. With all the immigrants already stifling jobs for locals, why add more issues and create a social ruckus within our country? I am all for temporarily providing them shelter till this is resolved. After that, please make them stand on their own two feet and let them go back to their homes. That is also a humane thing to do.Francissca Peter: Humanitarian grounds yes.