THE proposal to swap asylum seekers between Malaysia and Australia is not a “Malaysian solution” but a “Malaysian-Australian” one, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said.
The prime minister said he made this clear to his Australian counterpart, Julia Gillard, when they held a bilateral meeting yesterday morning.
The proposal to swap asylum seekers and refugees was scuttled by the Australian High Court in August.
Under the proposal, Australia was to have sent 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in exchange for 4,000 processed refugees.
Najib said the plan was first proposed by Australia and later presented to Malaysia.
“We discussed it and only then, the two countries agreed to implement a package,” he told Malaysian journalists after delivering his keynote address, “21st century infrastructure: new global partnerships”, at the Commonwealth Business Forum 2011 in Perth.
Najib said Gillard’s government remained interested in implementing the proposal but her government was short of one vote in support of it.
“Her government is hopeful and committed but it needs a lot of legwork on their part to get that one vote. So the proposal is postponed until such time her government can overcome the setback by obtaining a majority.”
The prime minister said it was not fair for the Australian media to label the proposal a “Malaysian solution”.
He also said that he cleared with Gillard the “negative” perception that Malaysia was mistreating asylum seekers and refugees in the country.
“This is not true. In fact, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees acknowledges our good treatment of them and views positively our efforts to deal with them,” said Najib who is in this Western Australian city for the four-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), beginning today.
Source : New Straits Times