Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Myanmar Swap Deal

Yesterday, I was relieved that the evening traffic was clear and uncongested – in spite of a brief downpour earlier – and I reached the 3rd Mile Square at Jalan Kelang Lama in time for the Money & You Toastmasters meeting. I always look forward to their meetings because they are generously full of bounteous fun. Last night was no different. And I especially enjoyed both the speeches and the evaluations. My verdict? An 8 out of a 10.

Seventy minutes earlier, I was at the Malaysia Airlines Academy in Kelana Jaya to attend the MAS Melor Toastmasters meeting. There were many no-shows and so the meeting was reduced to a short and sweet stretch of just 45 minutes. By the way, I was one of only two speakers and I delivered CC speech # 9 titled “Irrational Exuberance” – the idea for the speech only came to my head four minutes before the meeting started. I couldn’t even buy time to prepare for this speech because it was already my turn the second the club President finished his opening address. Fortunately, I survived and I am thankful to Bernard Louis who evaluated me with benevolence and kindness. This meeting, I reckon, can only muster a score of 3 out of a 10 but the fact remains that I appreciate that the meeting proceeded even with scarce membership.

The Sun this morning screams “New swap deal” on the front page and I shuddered with alarming anxiety as I glanced at the newspaper that I just picked up at a 7-Eleven. Over breakfast, I read that this piece of news is not about the dead-in-the-water ‘asylum-seeker for refugee’ Aussie deal. But it is another swap deal that Malaysia initiated with Myanmar. This is still a frightening prospect because this deal – already agreed in principle – involves the two countries exchanging detainees. The idiot who is our Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has claimed that there are about a thousand Myanmar nationals detained at immigration depots although the number of Malaysians detained in Myanmar was not made known.

Tenaganita director Irene Fernandez was spot-on when she said: “It is worrying because many of them [Myanmarese] are actually refugees, but because Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees and does not recognize anyone as refugees, they are treated as undocumented migrants” (p 01). The dastardly Malaysian Government is really contemptible.

No comments: