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theSun | THURSDAY JUNE 18 2009 15

INTERVIEWS VIEWS

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Praise for health checks Time for a Rohingya master plan


IT IS nerve-wracking to travel these This gave passengers a sense of PRESENTLY in Malaysia there are an ac- where as political, economic, and religious and do not care to intervene in the tragic
days because of the swine flu scare. confidence that the authorities knowledged 8,000 people from Myanmar refugees. But they have been turned away deaths of so many of these “boat people”.
Daily, we read reports of individuals were doing their best to limit the who are stateless. Many have applications everywhere. What would the prophet do now, seeing
with the symptoms being quaran- outbreak. pending with the United Nations Human We cannot forget the treatment and the plight of this community of Muslims?
tined. The health officer at the terminal Rights Commission to be classified as rejection in the last two years by our Asean’s non-interventionist policies
I recently had to travel to Pen- asked me whether I had any symp- refugees. Their applications are still pend- neighbours. No one wants them. have not helped in this issue. This long
ang, my hometown, to attend a toms which could be the first signs ing action, even after waiting for more The Rohingyas are applying now for standing problem affects Malaysia and
relative’s wedding. I was wary of of the Influenza A(H1N1) virus infec- than a year. And the number is probably the most they can hope for, that is, the other Asean countries.
travelling by plane as the contagious tion. She also insisted that I take the three times that of the known stateless United Nations’ temporary refugee status, The way forward, at least at this stage
virus is airborne and easily spread flu mask – better safe than sorry! people. until other countries agree to take them here in Malaysia, is to:
in enclosed spaces. I went on with my journey, The present circumstances, given the in. Indonesia is said to be considering their » establish a cultural orientation pro-
However, I was pleasantly sur- reassured that the authorities had world and local economy, place substan- application to land in Aceh temporarily. gramme;
prised and reassured when I arrived done their part to ensure my trip to tial burdens upon NGOs. But these and other solutions are only » set up a skills development pro-
at Subang Airport on May 29. Penang was as safe as possible. We have reduced personnel and temporary. gramme;
The terminal had health-check financial resources to help the Rohingyas. Myanmar ignores the Rohingya com- » establish an ombudsman to act as
counters manned by officials of- Lee Meng Loo We get little or no cooperation from the pletely or treats them as second-class their representative in the mediation
fering flu masks to passengers. Kuala Lumpur government, let alone from well-meaning citizens, saying they are the problem of process with the UNHCR, the Immigra-
but financially pressed citizens. Bangladesh. These and other positions tion Department, and NGOs; and
Only one NGO attempts to deal with are untenable. » develop a long-term plan to integrate
these refugees as their main issue. Others The border defended by the United them into our ummah.

Playing by our
deal with it as a part of their mandate. But Nations clearly places these people as By carrying out these actions, we are
all of us have a responsibility to help the a Muslim minority in the predominantly indeed empowering the refugees and
Rohingyas. Buddhist state of Myanmar and nowhere not merely addressing their short-term
We are all aware that after World War else. needs.
II unjust borders were drawn by Western The regime is driving the Arakanese, These people have the potential to
colonial powers. And the border between including the Rohingyas, away, forcing contribute, and desire to do so. But we

own rules
Arakan in Myanmar and south Thailand is them to become “boat people” facing the are forcing them into greater poverty and
among the most cruelly drawn. perils of robbery, drowning or starving in a life of crime which effectively produces
The Rohingya Muslims of Arakan were the open sea. Perhaps this is why no one the opposite result of being a stain upon
cut off from the Malay Muslims of south wants them — they are truly among the our communities.
Thailand, as well as the Muslims of Malay- “have nots” of this world. We in Malaysia can take the first steps
sia and Bangladesh. As were the muhajirun (Meccan towards treating the Rohingyas in a hu-
THE instructions million refugees are Placed under the political authority refugees) who followed Prophet Muham- mane manner.
were to conduct a slowly dying. The of Myanmar, the Arakan region entered mad (saw) to establish their city-state
little experiment rule would be that he a long period of neglect and oppression. in Medina in the first years of the Hijrah Azril Mohd Amin
with the group. The should stay put in his After many years of immense suffering, calendar. Then there was a prophet of God Vice-President
task was a simple palace, hand himself the Rohingyas began to take small boats to teach and protect them. Muslim Youth Movement of
game with a few in and kowtow to the to the open sea in hopes of landing some- Evidently, Muslims have lost their spirit Malaysia
basic rules. What world powers but
the group didn’t instead he toured
know was that at Egypt, Saudi Arabia,
any time, the rules Qatar and Libya and
could change at the upped his game by
leader’s whim. OnPointe appointing a war
After a few crimes fraternity
by Natalie Shobana Ambrose
rounds, the subjects member as governor
began protesting of a border province.
and getting angry – crying foul Who are Omar al-Bashir’s
that there was no order. Indeed pawns? The people of Darfur,
the lesson for the day was that who are voiceless and dying.
life isn’t fair – some people play Then there is Teheran. With
by their own rules, and couldn’t all the protests going on not just
care less about others. in Iran but around the world,
I’m sure we’ve all been one has to wonder did democ-
brushed by it in some form and/ racy die there too. On the CNN
or have been culprits. We find it website there is a picture of a
on the playground when a bully young woman holding a placard
gets his way, or in kindergarten which reads “What happened to
when another is given special my vote?” A sentiment I gather
treatment, in school when many Malaysians too share.
homework is done by others, in There are a lot of people
the office when colleagues are playing by their own rules right
rewarded for bad behaviour, here in Malaysia, to such an
and in governments where extent that we are not allowed
countries are run at the whims to speak about it. Perhaps we are
and fancies of the mighty. following blindly the examples
One culprit is North Korea. from the rest of the world and
The rule was to adhere to the Nu- perhaps think that it is accept-
clear Non-Proliferation Treaty. able because it is not as grave.
Instead, they defied world pow- After all, America defied the
ers many, many times. In 2006, United Nations, played by their
they carried out an atomic test. own rules and waged war on
In April this year they launched Iraq even when Kofi Annan said
a rocket and last month carried that the war was illegal. Though
out underground nuclear bomb the repercussions of America’s
tests which are comparable to action were minimal within the
those that destroyed Hiroshima UN family, the American people
and Nagasaki. continue to suffer, all because
On top of that North Korea their government played by
has warned of future atomic their own rules. And the Iraqis
and long-range missile tests. continue to suffer.
No one dares call them on it It’s frustrating when suddenly
because North Korea plays by the rules change and there’s no
its own rules. The powers-that- consistency and fairness. I worry
be are close to taking the rotan if for some reason I was placed
and smacking them but they in the position of needing to fight
have two pawns – the American for my rights in a Malaysian
journalists and are just about court; would there be justice
ready to say checkmate. I’m not within 24 hours or will I have
sure what the hungry citizens of to wait weeks before my case
North Korea think, but just the would be heard?
thought of the effects of the nu- When there isn’t a level play-
clear tests sends shivers down ing field, there isn’t fair play. At
my spine. the end of the day, the lesson
Another culprit hails from remains that life is not fair,
the African continent. After the people play by their own rules
International Criminal Court is- and we can only hope that they
sued a warrant of arrest on the play fair.
president of Sudan (the world’s
first sitting president with a war- Natalie is learning to embrace the
rant of arrest), he retaliated by concept that that life is not fair
expelling 13 foreign aid groups -- so just deal with it. Comment:
from Darfur, where now 1.5 letters@thesundaily.com