A couple of news in the last few weeks has been rather unsettling especially in relation to Rohingyas who had always made Malaysia their desired country to run to after leaving the refugee camp in Bangladesh. Infographic source: Anadolu Agency
Now it looks like they have found another place to stop over before making their run to Malaysia where there is a bigger crowd of them making trouble.
Read these first:-
- National Security 2020: Pondering Why Rohingyas Are Hated In Myanmar – Part 1 of 4
- National Security 2020: Pondering Why Rohingyas Are Hated In Myanmar – Part 2 of 4
- National Security 2020: Pondering Why Rohingyas Are Hated In Myanmar – Part 3 of 4
- National Security 2020: Pondering Why Rohingyas Are Hated In Myanmar – Part 4 of 4
Military Coup in Myanmar
I visited Myanmar for a short business trip back in 2012 – the country’s military had just introduced some political reforms and had relaxed some their strict rules. Foreign investors had started to line up, eyeing for some sound business opportunities there and this included our technical partners who were eyeing to implement core banking systems to some of the local banks.
Situation thereafter had continued to improve till this happened:-
The 2021 Myanmar coup d’état began on the morning of 1 February 2021 when democratically elected members of Myanmar’s ruling party, the National League for Democracy, were deposed by the Tatmadaw—Myanmar’s military—which vested power in a stratocracy.
The Tatmadaw declared a year-long state of emergency and declared power had been vested in Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Min Aung Hlaing. The coup d’état occurred the day before the Parliament of Myanmar was due to swear in the members elected at the November 2020 general election, thereby preventing this from occurring.
President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi were detained, along with ministers and their deputies and members of Parliament.
On 3 February 2021, Myint was charged for breaching campaign guidelines and COVID-19 restrictions under section 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Law.
Suu Kyi was charged for breaching emergency COVID-19 laws and for illegally importing and using radio and communication devices, specifically six ICOM devices from her security team and a walkie talkie; which are restricted in Myanmar and need clearance from military-related agencies before the acquisition. Both were remanded in custody for two weeks.
Image source: Times of India
The military junta had promised general elections within a year but one will not get their hopes high considering their past records. This may have an impact on the Rohingyas in the Rakhine state as there will be less civilian pressure on the military to scale back any military missions against Rohingyas on this state.
This will force more immigration of the Rohingyas from this state to Bangladesh where there are already 1.6 million Rohingyas and thereafter to Malaysia. Active military missions will also hamper any return of the Rohingyas from the refugee camps back to their villages in Myanmar.
Convenient Stopover at Aceh
The Royal Malaysian Navy and the Malaysian Coast Guards (Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency) have been doing a good job to intercept loadful of boats around Langkawi’s shipping lanes carrying Rohingyas making their way Malaysia where they hope to go under the radar and blend with the other Rohingyas already in the country.
Then again, Malaysian Navy and Coast Guard have a very large area to patrol and the more the number of intrusions by these Rohingyas, the chances of them being able to escape the dragnet are high.
Now Rohingyas had found another loophole by travelling from the refugee camps in Bangladesh to Aceh Indonesia where the locals are surprisingly welcome them with open arms merely because they are Muslims and nothing more. Aceh is already known for its hardline stand on Islamic laws.
These Rohingyas are taking advantage of the local’s naive hospitality and facilities here to prepare themselves with time, money & provisions for the final short run to Malaysia via the Straits of Malacca.
One can assume that the more these Rohingyas starts landing in Aceh and start to take over the manner of local cultures, the locals will start losing their patience with these Rohingyas same as what had happened with the locals in Malaysia surrounding the largest concentration of Rohingyas in Selayang.
Back in April 2020, the Home Ministry highlighted the state of Rohingyas in the country:-
Any organisations representing the Rohingya community in Malaysia are invalid by law and will face government action as the Registrar of Societies had never registered any such organisations, the Home Ministry insisted today.
It also reiterated that Malaysia does not recognise the community as refugees but merely “illegal immigrants”, even if they hold the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) identification cards, and therefore have no rights to make demands to Putrajaya.
Despite this, there are more than 100,000 Rohingyas in the country and the number only keep increasing with desperate Rohingyas keeps trying to enter the country illegally.
Mysterious Breakout from Aceh
Now what is feared has come true with this news:-
Hundreds of Rohingya are missing from a refugee camp in Aceh and are believed to have been trafficked to neighbouring Malaysia, officials and sources said Thursday. Just 112 refugees remain at the makeshift camp in Lhokseumawe on Indonesia’s northern coast this week, well down from the almost 400 that arrived between June and September last year.
Neither local authorities nor the UN could account for the whereabouts of the refugees from the stateless Muslim minority from Myanmar, who are feared to have enlisted traffickers to help them cross the Malacca strait into Malaysia.
“We don’t know yet where they went,” said Ridwan Jalil, head of the Rohingya taskforce in Lhokseumawe. “But they’ll escape if they can find any hole to leave because that is their goal.
The refugees have been asked not to leave the camp, the UN’s refugee agency said, given the risks involved in making the journey. “But (they) left despite our constant efforts to remind them about the danger and risks they could face by leaving, including if they used the services of smugglers,” said UNHCR spokeswoman Mitra Suryono.
“But we have to remember that many of (them) have relatives in other countries such as Malaysia. That may be one of the reasons why they continued their journey,” she added.
Rights groups blamed the Indonesian government, which drastically reduced security at the settlement when the Rohingya were placed under the supervision of UNHCR last month.
Is this just convenient that hundreds of Rohingyas refugees have been allowed to go missing from Aceh so that they can continue with their final mission to Malaysia? Why the security was so slacking that hundreds of immigrants can go missing?
Wouldn’t this raise some suspicion considering the Rohingyas was always welcomed in Aceh? Are these locals helping Rohingyas to intrude into Malaysia knowingly and cause a major security risk to the country?
The breakout from Aceh is indeed timely and highly suspicious.
Moving Forward with Rohingyas
The fact that the country had always been attractive to foreign terrorists to illegal immigrants is nothing but a stern reminder that we cannot let our guards down. It is only going to get worse with COVID19 pandemic.
It is also unfortunate that there are loopholes within our enforcement and immigration departments but this is just another battle that we cannot lose.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has crippled an immigration syndicate with the arrest of 46 people, including 27 Immigration Department officers, says a source in the know.
According to the source, the suspects were arrested in Putrajaya, Selangor, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak in a joint MACC and Immigration Department sting operation called “Ops Selat”.
Aside from the 27 immigration officers, 14 foreign worker agents and five members of the public acting as middlemen were arrested.
The syndicate, which has been active for the past year, operated out of the country’s main gateways including KLIA, klia2 and the Sultan Ismail Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine building (BIS).
For those who intentionally let our borders unguarded and worked with human traffickers to allow illegal immigrants for sake of illegal money should be charged with high treason. In some countries (interestingly Indonesia), for these offences, they will be shot by a firing squad. The point is that more these traitors are shot dead, the less of others will be tempted to do the same.
But now, we need to tighten our borders and keep a closer eye on these Rohingyas who will no doubt be doubling their efforts to come to the country and end up causing social problems & crimes.