By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, on Thursday, August 2, 1979:
DAP welcome the United Nations Plan to resettle 1,000 Vietnamese refugees a Day, and calls on Malaysian Government to end the policy of towing Vietnamese refugees back to sea in unsafe and unseaworthy vessels.
The DAP welcome the United Nations plan to resettle 1,000 Vietnamese refugees a day in South East Asia, with the aim of transferring 180,000 refugees from this region for resettlement to receiving countries in six months.
This plan will go a long way to reduce the burdens experienced by ASEAN countries as first-asylum country of the refugees.
The DAP also calls on the Malaysian Government to stop towing Vietnamese refugees back to see in unsafe and unseaworthy vessels. Although Malaysia is one of the countries greatly burdened by the refugee influx, leading to great social, economic and security problems, Malaysia also has humanitarian responsibilities which we should bear.
Malaysia’s international image cannot be enhanced with repeated stories in the international press of Vietnamese refugees being towed out to watery deaths or reports of assaults and other atrocities on the refugees before being towed out.
Without compromising or undermining Malaysia’s national social, economic and security interests, Malaysia should continue to lend humanitarian assistance to the refugees until resettlement in recepient countries.
It is estimated that only 50% of the refuges succeeds in surviving from the natural and man-made hazards in the high seas, and to tow out these survivors in unseaworthy vessels for them to face another dice with fate with a portion of them dying in the high seas is to pile inhumanity on inhumanity.
Wherever we can, Malaysians should try temporarily to relieve the human sufferings of these tragic victims of the 20th Century Asian Holocaust. This is why the DAP had proposed that the Government should appoint a High Commissioner for Refugees to render Malaysia’s humanitarian assistance to the refugees, in the context of protecting and safeguarding Malaysia’s national social, economic and security interests.