Reviving Malaysia. John Menadue

Apr 12, 2013

As I pointed out in an earlier blog (27 March 2013), the Nauru/Manus ‘solution’ is not working to deter asylum seekers. The government foolishly adopted Tony Abbott’s proposal.

With the failure of Nauru/Manus, the Minister for Immigration, Brendan O’Connor has spoken about the need to revive the earlier proposal on Malaysia. Last weekend the SMH published an editorial headed ‘Time to revisit the Malaysian plan’.

Arja Keski-Nummi and I have consistently supported the Malaysian plan. We did not see it as perfect by any means, but it did provide a basis for developing a regional arrangement. We are glad to see that at last the merits of the Malaysian plan are being examined again.

We wrote an article on 13 August 2012, entitled ‘Creating a safe place – Malaysia Mark II’. It was published in the Melbourne Age (see it on my website, click on ‘refugees’ and go to article of 13 August 2012).

The Government should urgently renew its efforts to negotiate an improved Malaysian arrangement and introduce legislation to implement it. Perhaps the Greens will think again. Their opposition to the Malaysian arrangement has delivered us the failed Nauru/Manus plan. The perfect became the enemy of the good.

There are two important issues that we must keep in mind in dealing with the issue of asylum seekers. There is no one single ‘solution’. There must be a comprehensive package addressing the problems in source countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan and in transit countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

The second is that UNHCR must be an important partner in what we undertake. The UNHCR said that it would not have a bar of Nauru/Manus, but it will cooperate on an improved Malaysian plan.

John Menadue

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