Marina Mahathir appeals for temporary solution to help stranded Rohingya migrants
Sending boats laden with food, water and other essentials could be a short-term way to help the Rohingya migrants stranded on boats, said social activist Marina Mahathir.
Appealing via her Facebook page, Ms Marina, the daughter of former Malaysian prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, called for those with seaworthy boats to come forward.
"Can we get food, water and other essential items plus medical personnel and send them out to the boats to help these people for now?" she was quoted in The Star.
She added that anyone who wanted to help should come forward and contribute.
Ms Marina also said this was a temporary solution.
"The permanent solution needs to be dealt with at the government to government level.
"As chair of ASEAN, Malaysia needs to take the lead," she said.
It was previously reported that 1,158 Rohingyas and Bangladeshis were allegedly abandoned by a human trafficking syndicate off the shore of Langkawi.
Deputy Home Minister Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said local authorities had turned away the boat they were on after providing the group with food and medicine.
He said that while Malaysia has been treating illegal immigrants humanely, it was time for the country to stop playing host as it will send the wrong message.
Separately, about 800 Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants were rescued off Indonesia yesterday, as Myanmar undermined calls for a coordinated response to South-east Asia's human-trafficking crisis by threatening to boycott a planned summit, AFP reported.
Hundreds more migrants were aboard a boat that was intercepted offshore by Indonesia's navy, a military spokesman said, while authorities worked out what to do with it.
Many passengers said their vessel headed towards Indonesia after earlier being driven away by Malaysia, according to police.
At least 61 children were ferried to shore by Indonesian fishermen.
The Indonesian and Malaysian policy of turning away stricken boats filled with Bangladeshis and ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar has been met with outrage, including from Washington and the United Nations.
Activists estimate up to 8,000 migrants may be at sea in South-east Asia, with horrific tales emerging of passengers abandoned by abusive smugglers, horribly cramped conditions, starvation and death.
In his first public comments on the issue, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said he was "very concerned with the plight of migrants", but gave no indication of a policy shift on an issue that has caused regional finger-pointing.
"We are in contact with all relevant parties, with whom we share the desire to find a solution to this crisis," he said in a statement, without elaborating.
It was not clear whether those "relevant parties" included Myanmar, which faces harsh criticism of its treatment of Rohingyas.
Yesterday, it snubbed neighbouring Thailand's call for a regional meeting on the problem on May 29.
The unfolding humanitarian crisis appears to have been precipitated by a Thai police crackdown that has thrown busy people-smuggling routes into chaos just as a surge of migrants has taken to the sea.
This article was first published on May 16, 2015.
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