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National Security 2020: Pondering Why Rohingyas Are Hated In Myanmar – Part 1 of 4

Rohingya Refugee Countries

Rohingya refugee crisis is a well known global crisis and other than Bangladesh who presently bears the majority of the refugees, others including Malaysia have taken them in and provided safe haven until the situation in Myanmar improves. The fact remains that these refugees must go back home in the end before they become a national threat to others. Infographic source: Anadolu Agency

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Disclaimer on Rohingya Refugees

By the way, don’t get me wrong – I am NOT disregarding the Rohingya refugees crisis and the suffering that they are facing.

The plight of these Rohingya refugees and their suffering is well documented and well-promoted by many first world countries including the United Nations. Some politicians in this country had also capitalised on the crisis to organise public rallies and donation drive.

One just needs to put themselves in their shoes to understand their suffering and the problems that they are facing from the time they are forcefully evicted from their villages, open to the possibilities of being killed, raped or injured, and having no other choice, running away to another country.

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No one is denying these facts.

For some, they take an even greater risk of paying human traffickers to take them on flimsy boats, cramped to the maximum to countries far away like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Their situation is grim indeed.

Somewhere in turquoise waters, perhaps where the Bay of Bengal meets the Andaman Sea, wooden boats filled with Rohingya refugees are listing, adrift now for more than 10 weeks.

They were prevented from docking in Malaysia, their preferred destination, and Bangladesh, their port of origin.

The deadly results of such a rejection became clear on April 15 when another Rohingya boat that had been prevented from docking in Malaysia was rescued by the Bangladeshi Coast Guard. Nearly 400 malnourished and dehydrated figures, many of them children, emerged from the hold, where they had been kept by human traffickers.

The United Nations refugee agency, which assessed the refugees’ condition, did not quantify how many Rohingya perished on the journey, saying simply that “many died and were tossed overboard.” A significant number had suffered physical abuse at the hands of the traffickers, the agency said.


Who knows of the numbers of these refugees killed and thrown overboard by their merciless traffickers and boat crews?

However, as much as the world media, NGOs, first world countries and even United Nations (through UNHCR) have highlighted on the plight of these refugees, the sufferings in the refugee camps, the alleged genocide by the Myanmar military, not much attention has been made on why in the first place, the Rohingyas were targetted and whether they did something that forced the military to take such drastic actions.

The Myanmar Government is not dumb enough to simply to do a countrywide genocide and hope the global community to keep quiet about it. The question is what these Rohingyas did that they are now so hated in their own country and had to take refuge to neighbouring countries.

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Rohingya At Car Wash

A couple of years ago, when I was helping out my cousin in his car wash, one fine day when we were waiting for the next dirty car to come in, we were approached by a shabby-looking young man on a motorbike. He was looking for a job – apparently, he was fired from his job as a building cleaner and he has a family to feed, so he needs to get a job soon.

When pressed further, he admitted that he is a Rohingya but he was unable to show any identification. When we asked out of curiosity on why he was terminated from his old job, he cooked up a rather unbelievable story – too good to believe.

My cousin and I looked at each other for a moment. In my mind, I was wondering how an undocumented illegal immigrant could get a job as a building cleaner and even worse, could afford to buy and ride a motorcycle. What if he caused an accident and someone got injured or killed?

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My wiser cousin, on the other hand, saw beyond my apprehensions and agreed to try out this guy for a few days before confirming his job (and paying him anything). He could always use another hand in cleaning the cars, especially on weekdays. Unfortunately, this Rohingya guy came for a few days and suddenly went missing in action without any notice.

Of course, there was no loss to my cousin because he did not lose out any money on this guy but that left us with the wrong first impression that the Rohingyas in this country are looking for something easy to do, not willing to stay in one place and have a discipline problem.

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Malaysia Preferred Choice of Rohingyas

Ever pondered why Rohingyas prefer to take the risking their life on these flimsy boats to Malaysia and not some other developed countries especially countries who often talk about human rights and safety for refugees?

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Is it because in Malaysia, they have a sizeable number of Rohingyas who are already prosperous through working illegally and basically have conquered a good part of the city? Is it because Malaysia is a Muslim friendly country so these Rohingyas can expect better treatment than others? Is it because of the lack of enforcement on illegal immigrants in Malaysia?

Mostly stateless and traumatized by decades of persecution by the Myanmar military, many Rohingya are desperate to get to Malaysia, where they can find work as undocumented labourers.


And this by Norman Fernandez:-

Why do Rohingyas make the longer perilous trip to Malaysia? Simple answer — they are economic refugees.

That is why Rohingyas are prepared to make the initial “investment” and make the perilous journey coming here, and are willing to pay between RM10,000 to RM15,000 to the human traffickers to bring them here. The return on their “investment” is assured.


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In the past, Malaysia had a social and criminal problem with illegal immigrants first from Indonesia, then Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and now it is time for the Rohingyas. Unfortunately, it has attracted refugees in the same manner as it has attracted drug dealers from Iran & Nigeria, scammers from China & Nigeria and terrorists from all over the world.

We would not let out guards down and relaxed because these Rohingyas seem harmless. It is only a matter of time.

To be continued in Part 2

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