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Malaysia election

Mahathir’s return sparks memories of Vietnamese boatpeople and Hong Kong’s humanity

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 May, 2018, 3:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 May, 2018, 3:08pm

So, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, at the age of 92, has defied the odds and returned as Malaysia’s prime minister. But for me, “lest we forget” appears to be the message of the day. 

May I draw your attention to a South China Morning Post article dated June 15, 1979 and headlined “Malaysia kicks out all refugees”?

And the following excerpt: “Malaysia announced today that it would ship immediately more than 70,000 Vietnamese refugees in camps in Malaysia back into international waters and shoot on sight [my emphasis] any boatpeople entering Malaysian waters. ‘If they try sinking their boats, they will not be rescued, they will drown’, Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Mahathir Mohamad, said. ‘Their drowning will be because they sank their own boats, not anything else.’”

FYI: What happened to Hong Kong’s Vietnamese refugee community?

This seems to me, when approaching 92 years of age, a clear case of crimes against humanity.

And by the way, I was the controller of the Refugee Control Centre in Hong Kong at this time and my task was to coordinate the Hong Kong government’s management of the thousands of unfortunate Vietnamese who arrived at this time. 

We did not turn away a single boatload of pathetic humanity during this crisis of unparalleled proportion. 

Talbot Bashall, Perth, Australia