Sungai Siput, Malaysia - "It is definitely not on for Australia to outsource their refugee problem to Malaysia - and for Malaysia to agree to it", the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) member of parliament Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj told Green Left Weekly at the PSM's 13th Congress held in this town, which is the population centre of his electorate.
"Australia is sending refugees to a country that hasn't ratified the refugee convention.
"In Malaysia there is no recognition of refugees as a separate class of immigrants. They are lumped together with other foreign workers without work permits.
"Refugees have a bad time in Malaysia. Even those who have the UNHCR card are still lumped together with foreign workers without permits. They cannot work legally but of course they have to work. When they work for companies and they get cheated they can't go to the authorities and say I got cheated because it is illegal for them to work. They can get caught for working without a permit.
"Their children can't go to schools. For health care they have to pay first-class rates.
"So if Australia wants to do this sort of thing then it has to put all this into order," Jeyakumar concluded.
The PSM and the Socialist Alliance in Australia have issued a joint statement making the following demands on the Australian and Malaysian governments:
• The governments of Malaysia and Australia must stop their exchange of asylum seekers and refugees.
• The Australian government must accept all asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat and not send them to other countries which are not parties to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.
• The Australian government must abandon its mandatory detention of asylum seekers arriving by boat, its attempt to reestablish an offshore detention centre in Papua New Guinea and its attempt to do a deal with Thailand and other countries along the same lines as the deal with Malaysia.
• Malaysia must sign and ratify the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and protect the rights of all asylum seekers and refugees in Malaysia.