ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Boat people in AsiaBy David Swartzemtruber
The plight of boat people in Asia often seems like an endless succession of episodes and misadventures.
A primary cause of Asian people seeking a better life elsewhere is the repressive regimes in North Korea and Myanmar. People living in those countries feel that they have diminished expectations in these countries that boast large armies and little else for their citizens.
On Tuesday, Thai immigration police picked up 55 Myanmar nationals in a boat off Thailand’s southern coast. Those interviewed were on their way for jobs in other parts of Thailand. It is estimated that there could be as many as 4 million Myanmar illegals working in Thailand to keep its economy booming through their low-cost labor.
Another issue that has spanned the Pacific is the transfer of 800 boat people from Australia to Malaysia in exchange for 4,000 registered refugees from Australia.
The transfer has raised concern as there are unattended children among the 800 and critics claim that Malaysia lacks the proper legal safeguards for the refugees and accuse Australia of exporting its refugee problem.
Australia’s High Court has ordered a freeze on the arrangement, with a court date of August 22 set. The Australian government hopes to bring the court hearing forward as it says that delays will play into the plans of people smugglers.
Boat people are a problem for individual countries and the international community as political reform in Myanmar and North Korea seems some time away and in the case of North Korea, perhaps never.
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