“Now, remember, resettlement is freedom from persecution, it's not a ticket to a first-class economy.”
Australian immigration minister Scott Morrison, 10 April 2014, ABC TV 7:30 Programme
“The government agreeing in principle means that it is still under study. And we will do it in accordance to international standards, because the main important thing is [that this] is based on a volunteer principle, without [Cambodia] being forced… Cambodia is [dealing with the refugee proposal] as a humanitarian act.”
Ouch Borith, secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 30 April 2014, The Phnom Penh Post
Dear Minister Morrison,
The Australian inhuman refugee policy of exporting asylum seekers to a non-first-class economy has come to the first-class dumping ground – the Land of Wonders.
We share your passion of not caring about the vulnerable. In the past 13 years, there are about 770,000 of them in Cambodia making way for land grapping and development. There have been scores of threats, intimidations, arrests, and jail terms for those who are uncooperative; the first quarter of this year sees 12 jailed and 48 arrested. At demonstrations for a living wage, we display no mercy by beating up and injuring protesters and journalists. We jail some, and shoot dead a few for good measure. The display of this awesome power are executed with relative ease – thanks to our Khmer Rouge forefather for smashing the Cambodian psyche so thoroughly that their civil obedience now is exemplary.
We are jubilant to learn you are prepared to pay almost anything for your out-of-sight-out-of-mind approach. You pay PNG well for the Manus Island facilities. Aside from the more than AUD1 billion for a detention centre, there is an extra AUD420 million in aid to PNG for hosting 1,296 refugees you have demonised. Thus, our service fee would be more than the rumoured USD40 million per year.
We are too refined to haggle with you over the fee. You need to remember, however, that in 2009 we deported 20 Uighur asylum seekers to China, and the Chinese vice-president arrived the next day to pay us USD1 billion in aid. There are reports that four of the deported were condemned to death and others sentenced to life imprisonment. We can live with that, could you?
We ignore tens of thousands of Khmer Krom seeking asylum in Cambodia; they are our flesh and blood living as an ethnic minority in Vietnam. They now exist in limbo without any legal status. In fact, we deport a few to Vietnam to face government charges associated with their struggle for human rights there. No one pays us to keep them here; besides, our eternal gratitude to Vietnam for putting and keeping us in power is too much for anything to come between us.
Of course, we know how to keep a secret. The World Justice Project has just confirmed this by ranking us 13 out of 15 in the East Asia and Pacific Regions, or 91 out of 99 governments in the world. Like in Australia, we have slush funds too; our service fee that may embarrass you far more than us can bypass our national budget straight into our personal interest group’s pockets.
Hence, while you can continue to brag about your concern for loss of refugees’ lives at sea and your success in stopping and turning back the boat, we can offer you service par excellence to remove your refugee pain out of your butt, sight, and mind. Our patron prime minister says this is a win-win outcome… when the price is right.
Hacked Land of Wonders spokesman
Ung Bun Ang