On the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur people traffickers and smugglers undertake their illegal operations with the aim of procuring funds in the exploitation of vulnerable asylum seekers.
SBS Learn
15 Jun 2015 - 3:23 PM  UPDATED 3 May 2016 - 10:34 AM

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In this clip we learn about the 100,000 refugees in Malaysia who seek a life that is free of persecution - in Australia. We witness a vast uninhabitable mangrove region on the outskirts on Kuala Lumpur, where people traffickers and smugglers undertake their illegal operations with the aim of procuring funds in the exploitation of vulnerable asylum seekers.

Clinging to desperate hope, these refugees pay money to smugglers and risk their lives and their children’s lives on unseaworthy vessels and travel thousands of kilometres across the ocean in a bid for a better future in Australia.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) defines human trafficking as: "the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them."

Several "populations of concern" that are vulnerable to people smuggling profiteers are being monitored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The UNHCR Global Report 2010 outlines the circumstances and plight of the world’s ethnic minorities. Similarly UNODC recognises that people smuggling is an international issue. The number of boat arrivals in Australia may be small in comparison to other nations in Europe and North America, but the number is a concerning humanitarian issue.




Task 1: Criminal Activity

Similar to many regions around the world where refugees are in transit, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, people smugglers conduct their criminal activities in an area notorious as a staging port for boats and smugglers who plan to set sail for Australia. Immigration police patrol by both air and by sea in the hope of capturing the criminals and breaking up their profiteering organised crime gangs.

a. Watch the clip. Describe the landscape and vegetation of the region on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur where people smugglers operate. Explain how the people smugglers are able to hide from the authorities in this region. 

b. Outline how people smugglers undertake their criminal smuggling activities from this region on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur and explain why it is an area they prefer to operate from. 


Task 2

This graph represents the statistical information regarding refugee and asylum seeking boat people arrivals in Australia from 1976 to 2010. 


Source: Parliament of Australia, Parliamentary Library- Social Policy Section


a. Examine the figures in this graph and with reference to world events, write an account of the fluctuations in numbers of boat people and the increase during recent years.

This extract from the Parliament of Australia, Parliamentary Library details individuals not accounted for in boat people arrival statistics from 2001-02 onwards.

Data from 2001-02 onwards includes arrivals at both excised and non-excised places. Includes the 5 people killed following an explosion on board a boat on 16 April 2009, but does not include 2 men found drifting in an ‘esky’ in the Torres Strait on 17 January 2009 or the 4 people found on Deliverance Island with no sign of a boast on 29 April 2009. 2009-10 figures include the 12 people who pied when a boat sank on 1 November 2009 but do not include the 78 asylum seekers on board the Oceanic Viking intercepted in Indonesian waters on October 2009 or the 5 men who reportedly drowned before a boat was rescued and towed to Cocos Islands in May 2010. Arrivals form the boat tragedy on 15 December 2010 where a boat sank on approach to Christmas Island include the 42 people saved and the 30 bodies recovered, but do not include the unknown number of those who drowned, estimated at 18.

b. Read this extract carefully. Organise the information and statistics in this extract into a table showing when, where, vessel type and how many people are accounted for in each incident mentioned.


Task 3: Global Commitment

The exploitation of people who are desperate and vulnerable is common around the world. For people smugglers and traffickers, generally force is not necessary to coerce those who find themselves in a desperate situation. Seeking a better life, refugees and displaced people may be lured into the promise of a safe and fulfilling new life in a new country. UNODC recognises that this is a global concern and that international communities need to work together manage this problem. 

UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov says: "Trafficking in persons is a global challenge demanding a global response, strong partnerships and the commitment and engagement of all sectors. Only through international cooperation can we stop criminals making grotesque profits from the exploitation of human beings. We need to make global migration and the global labour markets safe for those who dream of a new life. Indeed, this is why human trafficking is so destructive to human dignity. It takes ordinary people's dreams for a better life and turns them into nightmares."

a. Imagine you are a speechwriter at UNODC. Write a 200-word speech for Executive Director Yury Fedotov to present at a forum of international Presidents and Prime Ministers. The intention of the speech is to encourage nations to join together to tackle the problem of global people smuggling profiteering.

 Draw up a diagrammatic model to illustrate a how countries in Australasia could – as a single community – unite to protect refugees and displaced people from people smugglers and traffickers.


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Reference: The Ipsos Mackay Report

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