Press Conference Statement (2) by Parliamentary Opposition leader, Dap Secretary-General and Mp for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang in Penang on Saturday, 5th May 1990 at 11.30 a.m.
DAP sets up Special Committee headed by Lee Lam Thye to help Malaysian government counter international criticisms and allegations that Malaysian has violated international refugee agreements and push back to sea over 5,000 Vietnamese boat people in the past year
On Monday (April 30), I faxed a message to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahatir Mohamad, asking for a full-briefing for DAP MPs on the international criticisms and allegations that Malaysian had violated international refugee agreements and had pushed back to the sea over 5,000 Vietnamese boat people in the past year.
Dr. Mahatir has however gone off a fortnight leave overseas. I call on the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba, to arrange for a special briefing to be given to the DAP MPs on the Malaysian government’s policy on the Vietnamese boatpeople, in particular on the international allegations of Malaysia’s push-back policy.
In such a briefing, DAP MPs would want government clarification on allegations by international refugees organisations, as well as by the United States Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that since last May, over 5,000refugees had been pushed back to the sea by the Malaysian authorities and redirected to Indonesia’s Galang Island.
The international press have been carrying grim accounts of the Vietnamese boatpeople who were pushed back to sea by the Malaysian authorities in the past year. These are some of the account:
1. Last July, two months after Malaysia started pushing vessels from its shores, a rickety craft was being towed away from Malaysia. The vessel capsized. All but one of the boat people were wearing life jackets and survived. The person without a jacket drowned apparently the first fatality of Malaysia’s policy to refuse first asylum to boat people.
2. In October, four more Vietnamese died. There were among 62 boat people who had been at sea for 52 days. (81% died during the journey; the others died after the boat was towed from Malaysian waters)
3. In mid –January, a vessel ferrying 24 boat people beached along the east coast of peninsular Malaysia near Kuantan. Among the passengers was a family of four, including a pregnant woman who was about to deliver her third child.
Malaysian authorities towed the vessel and 20 of the boat people back into the South China sea. The family was permitted to remain, possibly in one of the three temporary holding areas that relief officials say are secretly maintained along the coast for boat people destined to be towed back out to sea. They stayed until the mother delivered her child.
A month after she gave birth, Malaysian authorities put the family on another .Vietnamese vessel with other boat people, which was then towed toward Indonesia .That boat-and family-arrived at the Indonesian refugee camp on Galang island in March.
DAP MPs will ask for detailed government responses to such detailed documentation about international allegations about Malaysia’s push-back policy, without which, it is not possible for the DAP to mount an international campaign to assists the Malaysian Government to counter international criticisms and attacks on Malaysia’s Vietnamese refugees policy.
DAP has set up a special committee headed by DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kuala Lumpur Bandar, Sdr. P. Lee Lam Thye, and comprising sdr. Ahmad Nor, DAP National Vice Chairman, Sdr. P. Patto DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Ipoh and Sdr. Gool Hock Seng, International Secretary and MP for Bukit Bendera, to help the Malaysian government to counter international criticisms and allegations against Malaysia for violating international refugee agreements and for pushing back to the sea over 5,000 Vietnamese refugees sincelast May, causing at least six deaths.
This Special DAP Committee will need facts from the Government on its Vietnamese refugee policy before it could render any assistance to the Government.