Illegal boat migrants: Putting Malaysia's interests first

Illegal boat migrants: Putting Malaysia's interests first
Rohingya migrants sit and stand on a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman sea on May 14, 2015.

Should Malaysia take in illegal migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar?

This question has triggered very polarised views among Malaysians. Judging from the responses of our readers, there are basically two opposing stands, one that feels it is immoral not to allow the stranded boats to land, while the other feels there is no way we should soften our stance as this will invite more trouble in the future.

Well, both school of thoughts do have their rationale, and it all depends on whether you look at this incident from the humanitarian point of view, or from the point of national interest.

There have been online comments accusing the Malaysian government of not holding out a helping hand to the boat people. As a matter of fact, it is by no means comprehensive to source the information from the Internet alone. From what I understand, our naval bases and maritime authorities indeed have prepared supplies, including food and fuel, for these people.They are not as stone-hearted as some have alleged. But, the government stand is very firm: We are not going to take them into the country.

It is like a starving beggar who has come to your doorstep to beg for food. While you can offer some food for him, it is unlikely that you will be so generous as to invite him to stay with you forever.

There are people who would curse the government for whatever it does, and these people have indeed made a very big fuss over the human trafficking issue.

This has in return triggered backlash, with some throwing out the question: If we are going to take them, where are we going to accommodate them? Who is going to pay for their expenses? if we are going to repatriate them, who is going to foot the bill? And where should they be sent to? Who will take the responsibility if they commit crime here? While we indeed sympathize with them, we still have to made things clear!

The DPM has said the Myanmar government should try to fix its own internal problems. We must not overlook the people smuggling issue but we must never give them the wrong message that we will provide everything they need as this will encourage more of them seeing our country as a refuge.

Perhaps to deal with these people we should just tell them straight in their face: Sorry, we just can't do it. If we are indecisive, we will only bring on more afflictions and disasters to ourselves.

On this particular issue, Sin Chew Daily handles relevant news from the perspectives of national interests. While our reporters sympathize with the misfortunes of the refugees, we must never overlook the interest of the country and her people just because we feel sorry for them.

Indeed we can draw more readers by playing up their miserable stories, but this will only embolden individuals and groups which are inclined to point their fingers at the government for not taking in the refugees.

We must see things rationally with the country's interest as priority. Grave consequences could ensue if we allow our hearts to be softened by their plight.

Those who feel the country should keep the refugees might think Sin Chew Daily has acted in a cold-blooded manner. If we try to please these people out of compassion, we might perhaps satisfy them in the near time, but over time this will create more havoc to the country.

Should we also contemplate whether the million-strong army of legal and illegal foreign workers in this country has brought us a great deal of social problems?

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