Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Another Final Deadline (updated)

Following the high-level meeting (reported here and here) between the Malaysian prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, and the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, it has now been decided to extend the deadline for the mass expulsion of undocumented migrant workers. The new date is now set for the beginning of next month. Abdullah's delay reflects the iron fist in the velvet glove that is the hallmark of his administration. On the one hand he claims that the delay is a "soft operation to advise illegals to return home". But he is equally clear about their fate thereafter: "From 1 March we will crack down on the illegals". Remember, "crack down" means vigilantes, jail, whippings and fines. We are still waiting for that rational and humane debate about the future of migrant workers in the country. We may have to wait a long time.

Amnesty International (Asia-Pacific) has sent this letter to Malaysia's Home Affairs Minister. Its position could not be clearer:
... we appeal to you to halt any deportations until it can be guaranteed that the fundamental human rights of all refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants, including undocumented migrants, will be respected in this process.


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