Many have asked why the Rohingyas running away from Myanmar are not keen on settling on Bangladeshi government’s USD280 million infrastructures on Bhasan Char Island and instead keen on making the perilous journey all the way to Malaysia? Image source: The Business Standard
Photos of the facilities made available at Bhasan Char by the Bangladeshi Government. It is rather impressive although the question remains whether the refugees will agree to be resettled here:-
A far cry from the cramped refugee camps they have now and with proper facilities with electricity, toilets and telecommunication towers and shelter against cyclones.
And the refugees need to remember that these are temporary settlement and not meant for them to be here forever. So arguments such as needing a place to plant their crops, their cattle to roam around and place to fish is simply out of the question.
Continuing from Part 2, this was an article on Rohingya titled “Time to repatriate Rohingyas” in Malay Mail newspaper on 27th April 2020 by Norman Fernandez who is a lawyer and also the ex-Johore state DAP Chairman.
Note: The said article is reproduced here verbatim (with some updates to grammar & spelling for clarity)
Time to repatriate Rohingyas
Malaysians and in particular the Malay community has shown great empathy with the Rohingyas.
Save for Malaysia, none of the 57 OIC countries has come forward to provide refuge for them in such numbers. Even Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation with 17,000 islands won’t even provide an island to house them temporarily. So, the Rohingyas should be thankful.
There are now some 150,000 Rohingyas in Malaysia. Unlike the Vietnamese boat people who were confined into the refugee camp in Sungai Besi and Pulau Bidong, the government had allowed them freedom of access and movement.
There is no restriction in movement. That was the biggest mistake the government has done. Rohingyas should have been placed in camps or kept in an island just as what was done to the Vietnamese.
Now, Rohingyas are have started to make demands such as the right to jobs, access to education, be treated equally as Malaysians (and in particular their children and who are born here), be given contracts and even taxi licences.
Worst, videos are going of Rohingyas demanding that Malaysia give Selayang where the majority of them reside to them. For some time, Malaysians have been noticing the growing assertions by the Rohingyas- Rohingyas not realising that their presence here are as REFUGEES.
Unlike the Indonesians, whether they are legal or illegal, once they are in Malaysia, they will immediately try and seek employment and work, Rohingyas, by contrast, have been proven not wanting to work or even after being given jobs not able to work.
One proof is the attempt by the government to allow Rohingyas to work in oil palm plantation where that attempt failed miserably. An illegal Indonesian will find a job to support himself ( and his family). You will never find an Indonesian sitting on the sidewalk begging or begging outside a mosque.
Rohingyas prefer handouts rather than earning from their own efforts. For some time now, and for more than five years ( some here since the ’90s), the government have been providing help including financial help.
In Johor, last year, the state government gave RM600,000 in Zakat payment to some 1,000 Rohingyas in the state. Today, the Rohingyas emboldened are asking even more financial help, while they happily and with minimum difficulty procreate and breed.
UNCHR and other organisations including the big talking human right do-gooders and activist save for facilitating their entry do not provide or assist the Rohingyas financially or provide any help but instead, facilitate their entry and then pressurise the government to help the Rohingyas and keep pressing the government to do even more.
Now, here are some interesting facts:-
From the Bay of Bengal to Thailand it is 1,469 kilometres;
From the Bay of Bengal to Aceh it is 1,408 kilometres; but
From the Bay of Bengal to Langkawi it is 1,560 kilometres and which is even further than the other two.
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.
The Bangladeshi government has on Bhasan Char island, an islet in the Bay of Bengal developed and built on the island a well-planned housing together with other amenities for the Rohingyas. Go to YouTube and watch the Bhasan Char island.
You will notice that the facilities there is far cry and far better than that of the squalid refugee camps the Rohingyas are now living. Just looking at the pictures of the houses build, watching the video of Bhasan Char and reading about the facilities, it is even better than some of our own PPRT homes for the poor. Just take a look.
Now, Rohingyas must answer this question:-
An island has been made available for you. Homes have been built and facilities provided. Why are all of you Rohingyas — both at the refugee camps in Bangladesh and in Malaysia, not wanting to resettle there? Your answer?
Despite now an island exclusively made available the Rohingyas claim that the island is not suitable for their way of life, because they cannot farm or fish (as though they can farm and fish once they arrive in Malaysia) and instead of using their RM10,000 to RM15,000 to start a new life in that island, still prefer to make the journey to Malaysia.
Why do you Rohingyas insist on being in Malaysia? Rohingyas now in Malaysia and those coming are nothing but economic refugees.
With 150,000 Rohingyas already here and 1,000,000 Rohingyas in Bangladeshi refugee camps and another 500,000 Rohingyas in Myanmar, Malaysia faces the nightmare of being overwhelmed by Rohingyas.
Peninsular Malaysia will face the same problem what happened to Sabah with the influx of the Filipino refugees. In Sabah, the Filipino refugees since arriving in the late 70s and early 80s have not returned home and worst intermarried into the local communities and changed the demographics of the state.
Also, there have already been instances where Rohingyas in Malaysia has been caught for Islamic State terror-linked activities and nothing prevents the Rohingyas in future and when demands are not met turning into crime and terror activities.
Here is something the Malay-Muslim community need to seriously think. In Malaysia, it is not too difficult to become or be termed constitutional Malay. If you a Muslim, speak Malay and follow the Malay customs you can be considered a Malay. Just like the Mamaks, in time the Rohingyas can also call or rather demand that they too are recognised as Malays.
Further, the Rohingyas could inter-marry with the Malays and their off-springs within a generation or two become Malay-Bumiputras. Remember the poem “Melayu” by Usmang Awang. Soon, there will need to be added a new line to the poem “Rohingya yang pelarian pun Melayu.”
What it all means is that, the Malays will (in time) need to share their special rights and privileges with the new Malays — the Rohingyas. Thus, the Malay share of their cake will get even smaller. They too will be entitled to studying in UITM and MARA or getting loans from MARA or Tekun. They too will demand the contracts apportioned exclusively for Malay be also given to them.
In short, whatever Bumiputra privileges will need to be made available to them. Who knows, someday, a Rohingyas may even become a menteri besar or even a prime minister ..
Malaysia must now face up to the fact that the 150,000 Rohingyas in Malaysia are not going to be resettled in any third countries.
None of the 57 OIC Muslim countries wants the Rohingyas. None of the western countries would want to resettle the Rohingyas. Even the world’s largest Muslim country – Indonesia that has 17,000 islands won’t even loan an island to Rohingyas.
Returning to Myanmar is simply a pipe dream – Myanmar will never take back Rohingyas. For Myanmar, it’s a blessing the Rohingyas have left and one big burden off their shoulder.
Rohingyas, by contrast, insist on being resettled in Australia, US and other western countries. Until then they will stay in Malaysia. It is the Rohingyas who decide where next they go and resettle.
Gambia once announced that they are willing to resettle each and every Rohingya refugee but the Rohingyas refused. They still prefer Malaysia ( where life is good). So, the 150,000 Rohingya refugees already here and multiplying is going to be Malaysia’s and Malays permanent burden. “Tiada Kerja Batu DiGalas.”
By the way, it took more than 30 years when the last Vietnamese in Malaysia, Doan Van Viet on August 30, 2005, boarded the plane after the first boatload of 47 Vietnamese refugees arrived on our Malaysian shores on May 1975.
Imagine when will Rohingyas leave Malaysia, if they ever will. The hard truth is this — the Rohingyas in Malaysia won’t be leaving Malaysia.
It is a fallacy that Muslims are being persecuted in Myanmar. In Myanmar, there are the ethnic Panthay Muslim — Chinese Muslims and Burmese mix. There are the ethnic Zerbedis — Indian Muslims and Burmese mix. Also, there are the ethnic Pishu MALAYS.
Now, why are the Pishu Malay Muslims who have better historical rights to return to Malaysia not fleeing Myanmar for Malaysia? How come all the other Muslim minorities can live in harmony with the majority Buddhists, but not Rohingyas.
Agreed that Rohingyas have been victims of terrible acts of violence, the Rohingyas should themselves not pretend they are innocent.
Rohingyas have long been distrusted. Rohingyas in Myanmar have a dark history — from trying to get their Arakan/Rakhine province ceded away to calling for the province to be incorporated into Bangladesh to their attempt to declare an independent Islamic State.
Rohingyas must know that we too know about Rohingyas terror acts against Buddhist and the massacre of Hindus. So Rohingyas should not play innocent.
Now that the Rohingyas have begun to make demands and that there is now an island made available for the Rohingyas, the government must have the foresight of the potential dangers and repatriate all refugees back to Bhasan Char.
Nothing less and nothing more — time for the Rohingyas here to be repatriated. Enough with the Rohingyas. Stop the tide.
The words of Dr Mahathir ( then the Deputy Prime Minister) come to mind when on June 15,1979, he said that the government will shoot the (Vietnamese) boats and if they try to drown the boats (we) will not help.
Let us not be fooled. Rohingyas are no longer running away from persecution. Rohingyas claimed that they were being persecuted in Myanmar and that was the reason for their exodus.
Now, are the Rohingyas also being persecuted by their fellow brothers of faith in Bangladesh or the exodus to Malaysia is for purely economic reasons. Malaysia must realise the arriving Rohingyas now are economic refugees.
Malaysia should say enough. Repatriate all Rohingyas to Bhasan Char — that could be a start
To be continued in Part 4