“A fool is made more of a fool, when their mouth is more open than their mind.Anthony Liccione – American writer
Thus goes the saying.
The Vibes published the above article where an NGO has accused the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) of not taking any action to assist a boat filled with Rohingya undocumented migrants 619km from Langkawi, 388km from Ranong, Thailand, and 352km from Port Blair, India.
Yes, 619km from Langkawi.
Converting those figures to nautical miles, the boat is 340 nautical miles from Langkawi. Now, that is 140 nautical miles beyond Malaysia’s Maritime Zone which is a 200 nautical mile limit, which also means that the boat is 140 nautical miles beyond the MMEA’s jurisdiction.
It is also 12 nautical miles beyond Thailand’s maritime zone. But it is only 193 nautical miles from Port Blair.
So, which government should Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network’s Rohingya Working Group chairman Lilianne Fan be barking at? Would she like to hazard a guess?
Even if, for example, a passenger liner is in distress at that given location and the Captain of the liner activates the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), the signal would be picked up by one or more INMARSAT’s satellites, and based on the geographical location of the liner, the signal would be relayed to the nearest country’s maritime rescue coordination centre for response.
In other words, even though Malaysia is included inside the Maritime Search and Rescue Region (MSRR) where the boat with Rohingya undocumented migrants is, the signal would have been relayed to the rescue coordination centre of the Indian Coast Guard, located at the Coast Guard Regional Headquarters (Andaman and Nicobar) in Port Blair. NOT MALAYSIA.
If that logic has not sunken in, when your car breaks down on the North-South Highway near Sungkai, please call for a tow truck from Kota Bharu.
As for the comments by Médecins Sans Frontières, please know that the only ASEAN countries that have become States Parties to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol are the Philippines and Timor Leste. Malaysia is not a signatory. The last time Malaysia allowed refugees to land, Malaysians had to bear the socio-economic cost of housing 252,390 South Vietnamese refugees from 1977 through 1991. And during that period, 4,535 babies were born to these refugees.
Had there not been a rioting that razed the refugee camp in Sungai Besi, signatory nations would probably still drag their feet over the issue today.
It is sad that between 160 to 180 Rohingya undocumented migrants may be at risk of dying at sea after fleeing the refugee camp in Bangladesh where they had escaped persecution by Myanmar authorities. This may sound harsh, but they have escaped the atrocities in Myanmar when they fled to Bangladesh where they had protection in the refugee camps. Why is there a need to flee to Malaysia or Indonesia?
Had the NGOs concerned spent a little bit of time reading facts than barking up the wrong tree, the boat would probably still be closer to help from Port Blair, and not flounder about helplessly facing the perils at sea.