Low grade Malaysian diplomacy


Unspun was traveling when this piece of news was sent to him. The whole story is remarkable in how low grade diplomacy has become where Australia and Malaysia are concerned.

To begin with Unspun finds it hard to understand the Australian human rights groups’ and the UN’s obsession on the possibility of asylum seekers being caned by the Malaysian authorities. Of all the things that can happen to asylum seekers why obsess over caning? Malaysia does cane people once in a while but they do not go around willy nilly caning every asylum seeker in sight.

And on the Malaysian side, what must, or must not, go through Foreign Minister Anifah Aman’s mind for him to argue with such churlishness? Wouldn’t a simple response that caning should not be an issue because Malaysia is a country of laws and legal processes and that the only people caned are those found guilty, suffice?

Why the defensiveness? Especially when it was only human rights groups and the UN, and not the Australian Government, that was mouthing off on the caning? Why alienate a people because of what some interest groups and the UN is saying?

What does it say of the Malaysian Government to have such bottom-of-the-barrel politicians putting up arguments that would embarrass their own mothers? Perhaps the problem can be traced back to the likelihood that Anifah was spared the rod when he was in school, so he never learned his rhetoric?

Malaysia Questions Treatment Of Aborigines

By Karlis Salna, AAP South-East Asia Correspondent

JAKARTA, May 27 AAP – Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman has questioned Australia’s treatment of Aborigines in response to criticism of his country’s record on human rights and the controversial asylum seeker swap deal.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Bali, Mr Aman lashed out at suggestions the 800 asylum seekers covered by the deal could be caned, saying Malaysia was a civilised nation.

“Australians always have fears,” he told AAP on Friday.

When asked if he could guarantee that asylum seekers would not be caned, he said: “We won’t treat them like you have treated Aborigines.”

The comments come in the wake of criticism of the asylum seeker transfer deal linked to Malaysia’s record on human rights.

A series of Amnesty International reports have detailed how asylum seekers in Malaysia are subjected to abuse and extortion, and live in constant fear of deportation. Thousands are believed to be beaten and caned every year.

“I don’t know (why) you think that we cane those people,” Mr Aman said.

“We are a very civilised nation. If we are not civilised then you (Australia) are the ones to blame, because most of our politicians are Australian graduates.

“Maybe there is something not right that we learned from Australia. So if we are doing what you think we are doing, we must have learned from you.”

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen on Thursday said that the asylum seekers Australia intended to send to Malaysia would be treated properly.

Under the swap deal announced on May 7, up to 800 new boat arrivals to Australia will be relocated to Malaysia for processing.

In return, Australia will accept 4000 people from Malaysia who have already been granted refugee status.

The deal has come under fire from human rights groups as well as United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay.

During a visit to Australia earlier this week, Ms Pillay said Australia had to ensure there was no risk Malaysia would breach the principles of the Refugee Convention and Convention against Torture – neither of which the South-East Asian nation had ratified.

Mr Bowen has said the agreement with Malaysia will be finalised within weeks.

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