by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, April 26, 1990:
DAP calls on Malaysian Government to pay heed to the growing international furore over Malaysia’s pushing Vietnamese boat people back to sea and reports of at least six deaths and hundreds of people missing
DAP is gravely concerned by the international furore over the controversy of Malaysia’s pushing Vietnamese boat people back to sea.
Although the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba, had last week denied the statement by the US State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler that Malaysia was pushing Vietnamese refugees back to sea, resulting in deaths, the international furore has not subsided.
Two days ago, the President of the Washington-based Refugees International, Lionel Rosenblatt, said in Bangkok that Malaysia had turned away more than 5,000 refugees in the past year because it was unhappy with an international agreement on coping with the influx.
Rosenblatt said at least six people pushed back to sea had died and 263 people were missing.
The international press have been reporting about the furore over Malaysia’s pushing Vietnamese boat people back to sea, and even documenting cases of those who had dies as a result of such a policy. The first case of such fatality was reported to be last July, two months after Malaysia started pushing off vesels from its shores.
There are also reports that Malaysia’s rejection policy is eliciting calls for anti-Malaysia campaigns on trade and tourism in the United States.
The Deputy Prime Minister said last week Malaysia did not force the Vietnamese boat people back to sea, and if this is the Government’s position, then it should have no problem in convincing international opinion and other countries of the true situation.
In the light of the clarification by the Deputy Prime Minister, it is odd that no Government Minister or senior government official met Rosenblatt when he was in Malaysia for a four-day visit recently.
Malaysian MPs have been kept completely in the dark as to the real picture on thelatest development in the 15-year-old Vietnamese boat people problem, and about the international furore which may have trade and tourism implications for Malaysia.
The Malaysian Government should pay heed to this international furore, and give all Malaysian MPs we well as the people a full briefing as to the actual position over the international controversy over Malaysia’s pushing the Vietnamese boat people back to sea, exposing them to death and other hazards on the South China Sea.