By: B. Goode
Singapore’s position with regard to the Rohingya refugees is very succinct; we are a very small country and thus we cannot take in any of them.
If we could host almost a million foreign workers, and accept thousands of new citizens, there was no reason why we could not accept a paltry 7,000 refugees.
Well at least that’s the accusation coming from the human rights champions (not Aung San Suu Kyi as she has conveniently kept quiet about the issue).
But if ever there is a bullshit that smells good, this is it, because the obvious truth is diplomatically unpalatable.
So allow me to be Mr Obvious for a moment.
The Rohingyas live in a land that straddles between Bangladesh and Myanmar. They are a proud people with their own culture and a strong trading tradition. The problem is that they are unrecognised and unwanted by both countries. You could blame this on the British who had this habit of haphazardly drawing boundaries without considering the cultures and races of the affected people. If the British had been more responsible, the Rohingyas would have been given their own state. But we shall leave this to another discussion.
So as far Bangladesh and Myanmar are concerned, it would be to their advantage if the Rohingyas simply disappeared either through genocide or migration. In fact, both countries have been quietly encouraging the migration by closing one eye towards the people smugglers operating from their countries. There have also been accusations that both governments are even accomplices to this operation.
This migration by boats is not new. It has been happening for years. But it only became a crisis when Thailand decided to close the illegal camps operating out of the jungles on their border with Malaysia. With nowhere to disembark, the refugees were left to fend for themselves; floating on rickety boats.
So if Singapore were to accept these refugees, it would not only be the 7,000, but the approximately 1.5 million Rohingyas still trying to leave the atrocities back home. Bangladesh and Myanmar will be more than happy to ship them out, and the people smugglers will be delighted to facilitate.
So we have to know the difference between bullshit and reality. We do have ample space to accommodate 7,000. But the stark reality is, we do not have enough room for 1.5 million and we should not be the solution to other countries’ problem.