04 June 2015
THE Rohingya refugee crisis presents a test of Malaysia’s chairmanship of Asean. The most recent agreement by Malaysia and Indonesia to provide temporary shelter for the refugees, following an emergency meeting on May 20 in Kuala Lumpur was a diplomatic breakthrough. It reflected Malaysia’s delicate efforts to maintain its regional commitment to Asean while allaying domestic concerns about illegal immigrants in Malaysia.
In the weeks prior to this, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand turned away ships carrying mostly Muslim Rohingya refugees who were fleeing Myanmar due to religious and ethnic persecution.
Estimates show that there could be over 6,000 people who are still stranded in the open seas. Indeed, the plight of the Rohingya people has drawn an international outcry.
… The writer is a research analyst with the Malaysia Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
IDSS / Print
Last updated on 16/11/2015