Malaysia offers Australia help with asylum-seekers

Malaysia offers Australia help with asylum-seekers

Malaysia has offered to help handle the influx of asylum-seekers into Australia, many of whom die while at sea or upon reaching Australia in horrible conditions.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak extended the offer during bilateral talks with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbot at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders Summit here yesterday.

"Human trafficking is a big issue," he said. "Such illegal activities had brought great suffering to those who had paid hefty sums of money to go to other countries," Najib said.

"These people (asylum-seekers) use rickety and unsafe vessels. The Australian PM and I discussed how to prevent such incidents from occurring," he told Malaysian reporters here.

He and Abbot also discussed a "reverse Colombo Plan", whereby students Down Under would be offered places in Malaysian universities, besides experiencing the cultures and lives of Malaysians, and those of other ASEAN countries.

The Plan (named after the Sri Lankan capital where it started in the 1950s) embodies a concept of collective inter-governmental efforts to strengthen economic and social development of countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Regarding his meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Najib said his counterpart had expressed support for Malaysia's bid for a seat as a non-permanent member in the United Nation's Security Council.

New Zealand was also offering to be in the council but this would not be an issue to Malaysia, Najib said.

"We are representing the Asia-Pacific countries, while New Zealand is part of the other countries that include Turkey and Spain, in the contest for the seat," he said.

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