Refugee deal – a Malaysian view

I have an opinion piece at The Conversation where I analyse the Malaysian side of the Australian refugee story from several perspectives. Mainly, I ask what has actually driven the Malaysian government and Prime Minister Najib Razak to submit himself and his government to such intense scrutiny and, more importantly, can a country where its enforcement agencies are laws to themselves and a society that looks down on immigrants (legal and illegal, including refugees), have the ability and willingness to defend the rights of refugees? I go on to suggest that:

…what is puzzling is the fact that Najib would accept this trade-off between a higher profile for himself among government leaders for public humiliation. It is inevitable that due to the intense media scrutiny around this deal, Malaysia’s atrocious human rights record will be put under the spot light.

If this is the principle reason Malaysia signed such a deal, then whose objectives were really being considered – Najib’s personal needs or the country?

Update: I elaborate further on the two key questions in this interview on 3CR Breakfast Radio Show.

About Greg Lopez

Greg Lopez is a research fellow at Murdoch University's School of Management and Governance, and New Mandala’s Malaysia and Singapore section editor.