According to the UNHCR there are approximately 100,000 asylum seekers in Malaysia. Of these, 18,700 are refugee children below the age of 18 who live illegally in Malaysia.
SBS Learn
15 Jun 2015 - 3:21 PM  UPDATED 3 May 2016 - 10:24 AM

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In this clip the six participants witness the raid of a refugee slum. Slums like this are illegal in Malaysia as it is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its Protocol. The Chin people featured in the documentary are a minority group who have fled armed police and persecution in their home country of Burma for a safer life. As there are no official refuges camps in Malaysia, they live illegally in makeshift ghettos. 

As a consequence of their plight, the Chin people have no legal status in Malaysia and so are unable to work. With no money, they live in illegal shanty hovels in regions such as the Klang Valley. These are places where people live in extreme poverty and squalor. Their crude homes are made from discarded timber panels and sheets of plastic. Access to food, water, sanitation and health care is a major survival concern.

According to the UNHCR there are approximately 100,000 asylum seekers in Malaysia. Of these, 18,700 are refugee children below the age of 18 who live illegally in Malaysia. Often, the refugees have no extended family support and cannot speak the local language. Living in exile, refugee children are frequently denied normal childhoods. 

In the clip the Malaysian Immigration Police are conducting a raid on a typical refugee ghetto. The living conditions are evident and appalling to the six Australians in the documentary. A typical raid, the terrified refugees are hunted, captured, bound and locked up to be transported elsewhere. 




Task 1: Living Illegally

For many people, such as the Chin minority group living in Malaysia, settling in illegal ghettos is intended to be temporary. Without any legal status and enduring appalling living conditions, people try to move on to other countries in search of a safe and secure life. People smugglers typically operate in such dismal ghettos taking advantage of vulnerable people who would risk anything for the possibility of a better life. 

a. Who are people smugglers and what do they do? 

 Suggest why parents living in an illegal ghetto in Malaysia, would give all their money and identity documents to a people smuggler, in order for themselves and their children to travel illegally on a boat to Australia?

The Ipsos Mackay Report conducted in 2010 surveyed Australian attitudes towards contemporary immigration. 1375 Australians over 18 took part in the online survey. One person submitted a comment to the report which read: “Far too many boat people arriving on our doorsteps, and there will be BIG problems down the track!!!!”

c. Watch the clip carefully to help form your opinion about why the Chin people live in this ghetto. Write a 200-word response to this comment outlining the reasons why a person might chose to leave this ghetto, pay all the money they have to a people smuggler, and board a boat bound for Australia.


Task 2: Minority Groups

Do a two-part study of the ethnic Chin people. In your answer include information on: 

Part One
Country of origin
Ethnic heritage
Main religion

Part Two
Reasons why the Chin are persecuted
Reasons for displacement
Countries that Chin people have fled to
Living conditions in a country that grants Chin people a legal status
Living conditions in Malaysia that does not allow Chin people a legal status


Task 3: Attitudes and Discrimination

Watch the clip a few times in order to fully understand what is going on in the raid. Each of the Australian participants has his/her own point of view about the raid. Listen carefully to their comments.

Now, examine whether the experience of witnessing the raid, the squalor, the desperation and the discrimination impacts on each of the participants.

Write up a list of their names: Adam, Darren, Gleny, Raquel, Raye and Roderick. For each of the participants, write two comments you can hear them say in the clip. One comment from before or just as the raid was starting, and another comment at the conclusion of the raid. 

What conclusion can you draw from the comments of the Australian participants? 


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Reference: The Ipsos Mackay Report

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