Policy Briefing Paper about Asylum seeker and malysia solution Essay Example

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Asylum refers to the legal protection offered by a State government to anyone who can demonstrate a “well-founded fear of persecution” based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. This brief intends to look at the situation of Malaysian asylum seekers in Australia and what impact the agreement of exchanging asylum seekers has to Australia. The brief will also discuss the relevant measures that can be taken by the government either for or against this move.


The question of asylum seekers from Malaysia into Australia is one of the most contentious and complex political issues the Australian government faces today. From the definition, it is clear that asylum seekers are on the run from their country (or in other instances; states) to other countries in search of political refuge. In this case, some Australian nationals are settled in Malaysia while the Australian government accepts Malaysian refugees into the country. Essentially, it is a swap deal between Australia and Malaysia.

According to the Human Rights Body in Australia, in there newsletter published in July 26th 2011, Australia has violated three of the five fundamental principles of the Refugee Convention. These principles are; no mandatory detention unless for a limited time, the opportunity for refugees to work and safe guards for children and those who are vulnerable.


A number of stakeholders that deal with the matter of refugees are questioning this whole deal. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees for instance, is questioning the legality of the deal. The commission was not a signatory to the deal. The Commission is of the view that the signatories to the deal frailed to follow the proper channels of agreeing on the matter. According to the UNHCR report dated 5th August 2011, it was stated that “The current Arrangement worked out by both parties takes a different approach. It responds to the particular domestic and regional context of the asylum and migration situation in the Asia-Pacific region, which includes the need to address people smuggling challenges and, in particular, to prevent further loss of life at sea”.

The Greens Party also does not agree with the move. The party condemned the move by the government. The party has condemned the Prime Minister over what they term to be an inhumane way of dealing with life. The Greens have, however, noted that they will not block the deal despite showing reservations to it. According to the Greens, their main concern is the lack of transparent guarantees for the treatment of children and unaccompanied minors sent to Malaysia.

The Labour Party itself seems to be split over the matter. According to the Australian National Affairs, “the asylum-seeker issue is threatening to divide the Labor Party, with the Right rejecting a left-wing demand for special arrangements for children by warning the government will not be re-elected if it does not stop people-smugglers” (Australian National Affairs; June 7th 2011). The Minister in charge declined to provide an exemption for unaccompanied minors while other members of the party could not accept that children/minors should be sent out unaccompanied. The party seems to be losing popularity based on this move, to the extent that some of ots members fear that the party might not reclaim the government in the next election following this move.

One option that has been flaunted is the Nauru asylum seekers option. While the government condemns this move, the opposition seems to support the option. According to Julie Bishop, deputy opposition leader, the Nauru option is the best option. She suggested that since Nauru was ideally and originally built for Australians, the asylum seekers will be welcomed there properly. If this option is to be implemented, given that the government has already negotiated a deal with Malaysia, the government is likely to lose its popularity further. Accepting this option will prove to the public that a number of the party members in the labour party do not have confidence in the decisions that are made by the Prime Minister.

Another option available is the East Timor one. According to the Inside Story current affairs and culture, East Timor is a party to the Refugee Convention and Protocol (albeit with reservations). It already has domestic procedures in place for determining asylum requests (9th March 2011). If the government takes this approach, it will save face. This is because the Australian public seems to have more faith in East Timor than in Nauru.


Given the two options above, I would recommend the East Timor option. This is because it seems like a win/win situation for everyone. The safety of the asylum seekers is guaranteed owing to the fact that it is a party to the Refugee Councils stipulations and the government will not lose in its following as it will if it follows the Nauru option. The conditions in which refugees are accommodated in Nauru had also faced a lot of criticism in the recent past. This will not look god for the government.


It is for the above reason that it is recommended that the Minister of Immigration relooks into the whole Malaysia deal, given that Australia seems to be losing more than it gains, and adopts the East Timor plan. This will be cost effective for the government and it will save the government’s name.


The United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Report on the Australia/Malaysia Asylum Seekers, July 15th 2011

The Australian Human Rights Body Newsletter, July 26th 2011

Australian National Affairs; June 7th 2011

Inside Story current affairs and culture 9th March 2011