The refugee racket – Part 3

The fourth issue in examining this contentious matter is the quality of governance. About 6 years ago, a new government dispensed with temporary asylum. What was the rationale? This was effectively an invitation to the ‘snake heads’ in Indonesia to send more boats to Australia, receiving up to about $10,000 per head placed on rickety boats. The undocumented passengers were expected to be saved (euphemistically termed ‘intercepted’) by Australia’s naval border patrol.

This open door policy has reportedly led to the establishment of ‘travel agency’ arrangements in certain countries of departure. Indonesia’s practice of issuing entry visas on arrival for some, and visa-free entry for Muslim visitors must surely be a part of this open door. The availability of lawyers (all pro bono?) who are interested in finding more entry doors through appeals to the courts, by supporting what they consider to be arguable cases, would be of considerable advantage to the boat arrivals. Repeated access to the courts by these (mainly) economic migrants is a wondrous part of the process. How so?

In my view, Australia is not known to display necessary strength in dealing with powerful corporate or other interests. What is worse is that, when border protection, or the stability of inter-communal relations, or budgetary consequences require a bipartisan approach, what we see is political sniping, associated with a degree of puffery.

When a respected media commentator quoted (in The Australian) officials previously involved in the assessment of asylum seekers about the challengeable and ineffective practices currently being followed, and which now permit almost every asylum seeker to be accepted, there was nothing said by relevant politicians about temporary protection. Why not? Allowing for family reunion, the 44,000 who arrived through the ‘open door’ will most likely result in more than 120,000 economic migrants, most unemployable for years.

What sort of governance is this? With budgetary deficits expected to last many years, rising recorded and hidden unemployment (and welfare costs) in an economy slowing into recession, how could anyone responsible justify keeping the door open for unskilled unselected immigrants? Slogans like ‘Stopping the boats’ and ‘No one will be re-settled in Australia’ will have no impact on the 44,000 ‘open-door’ arrivals already in the country. Their ‘glee club’ should be pleased. Purely in passing, I do wonder if the members of this open entry support group work for the betterment of their fellow Australians, the Aborigines.

Having lived a highly interactive and contributory life, as an adult, for more than 6 decades in Australia, I believe that I am quite capable of observing my nation of adoption honestly, and to speak on behalf of the interests of my grandchildren and their successors. Refer Musings at Death’s Door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society (Recommended by the US Review of Books; and endorsed pre-publication by a renowned senior academic in history and politics).



The refugee racket -Part 2

My previous post dealt with the issues of morality and legality in the processing of asylum seekers, against the background of protecting Australia’s national borders. Shouting ‘Open sesame’ at the door of Australia’s cave of welfare ‘goodies’ is equivalent to an unlawful boat arrival saying ‘You don’t know who or what I am, but I am a refugee. If you do not give me what I want as quickly as possible, I will sue you.’

The third issue here is fairness. The vociferous Anglo-Australian supporters of unlawful arrivals, all of whom may not be as materially disinterested as they profess, claim that all asylum seekers (whom they had never met) satisfy the UN Convention. How do they know this? They are certainly very generous with the hard-earned taxes paid by fellow citizens. As it is, billions of dollars are spent in dealing with the asylum seekers.

Unwarranted compassion by some politicians for very large numbers of potentially unemployable persons, against the background of a slowing economy and increasing unemployment, is just irresponsible. Examine the data: eg. after 5 years, Afghans accepted as refugees, reportedly have an unemployment rate of 91% (see The Australian). What sort of work will unskilled arrivals find available in a country with an extremely low need for such workers?

Should not these supporters, especially the politicians, provide the nation with the costs (the dole, other welfare, public housing, Medicare, legal representation, court fees, interpreters, phone calls, etc.) arising from their policy, year by year, especially after allowing for family reunion? Fairness to their nation requires that.

The policy of granting only a 3-year temporary protection visa was foolishly discarded a few years ago. That policy permitted the repatriation of asylum seekers when conditions had improved in their country of nationality. Economic migrants should, of course, be required to follow the established path of due process, by seeking selection by authorised officials.

Australians who had been selected as immigrants or as refugees on the basis of their capacity for making a net contribution to Australia and to integrate easily into Australian society, would not support the entry of self-selected boat arrivals. These are important issues for the health of any nation. Even refugees need to be assessed in terms of their ability to integrate. When it is not possible to identify an asylum seeker (through a lack of necessary documentation), how could an assessment be made about his/her capacity to integrate into the nation? Will this person be able to adapt to the institutional framework and the social values of modern, egalitarian, non-sectarian Australia?


The refugee racket – Part 1

In the forthcoming election in Australia, a major issue of contention is how to stop the invasion of the country by an increasing flood of undocumented, objectively unidentifiable economic immigrants. The future of Australian society is being threatened by these boat arrivals, because of unfocused official policies and (reportedly) challengeable assessment procedures, which can be expected to result in seriously adverse inter-community and budgetary consequences.

The issues arising from this manner of asylum seeking are quite simple: morality, legality, equity (or fairness) and good governance. This part deals with the first 2 issues.

As necessary background, it must be noted that, at Australian airports, a person found, after an in-depth scrutiny, of having been dishonest in obtaining an entry visa, is sent back to the point of departure. It would be obvious that an entrant with an acceptable visa who, after landing in Australia by air claims asylum, had not told the truth to the visa-issuing official. Should not such a person be treated the same way? That is, be sent home (or to the point of departure to Australia) immediately, and advised to follow due process?

This is the background against which a claim for refugee asylum by an unidentifiable boat arrival needs to be assessed. The primary issue is morality. The related issue is what is being camouflaged? Should not a person who has disposed of all his documents before taking a boat be thereby viewed with suspicion? Have we, as a nation, not learnt anything from our experiences with the boat people of a previous era?

My experience as Director of Policy on refugee and humanitarian entry suggests that we attract criminals and other unsavoury individuals when we pay unwarranted attention to the UN Convention on Refugees, or allow party politics to influence humanitarian entry. There is enough evidence of this.

As for the legality involved, Australia is an independent nation, with a right to protect its borders. The UN has no jurisdiction over this right. The UN Convention on Refugees is not legally binding; it is not a treaty, and can be applied in a manner consistent with the national interest. Thus, Muslim refugees from Kosovo were given only temporary protection, and were then required to return to their homes, when stability had been achieved. It was a sound policy.

Paths to forgetting

Forgetting is a variable feast: it takes all manner of forms. One can forget an appointment or where one left one’s keys. Regrettably, some may forget who they are or where they live, especially at that six-score-and-ten stage. A traumatic event may also lead to forgetting, although the alternative is most probably the norm – to remember and suffer.

The coincidence of my marital break-up and my premature curtailment of my career to avoid further tribal victimisation led me to asking a retired sofrologist, and friend, if he could, through hypnosis, assist me to cope with my troubled memories. A sofrologist is a medico who utilises hypnosis to assist his patients. Under hypnosis, he planted the thought that I could place any intrusive memories as characters on a stage; and then to close the stage curtains on the play these memories were enacting when they began to arouse any adverse emotions.

Wow! This practice began to work. I found that, while the memories did surface from time to time, I felt in control. There was, progressively, less emotion attached to these memories, because I could ‘look’ at them more and more dispassionately. The anger and hurt were thus dissipated.

The, I came up with a better idea. I mentally conducted – metaphorically, naturally – cremation ceremonies for memories for which I had no further interest. They were not going to hurt me any more. Ashes to ashes, and all that! What was most satisfying was that the memories, like everything else that is well burnt, could not possibly take up their former form and substance, or place on the stage; they were as a sea mist at sunrise.

Forgiving but not forgetting

Forgiveness is an interesting idea. It hints at tolerance, perhaps based on one’s rising maturity. The concept, promoted by those one respects, makes one feel spiritually uplifted, to feel good at the thought of doing good – at least in one’s mind.  Then comes the reality. It bounces off the wall of one’s ego, one’s sense of that dignity which was trampled by that offender, one’s need to fight back, and (hopefully) to retaliate. Thinking about justice as meted out by oneself can give one an anticipatory glow of satisfaction.
Then there arise 2 problems: How is one to retaliate – this is a problem of practicality, of a pathway to be followed, and which will not lead to the establishment of a process of vendetta – for which there may be no end in sight. The second problem is that even those who are civilised, who are enveloped by that aura of ‘doing the right thing’ even when no one is looking, might experience conflict between ego-based mind and an ascending soul.
Eventually, maturity, common sense, charity, and perhaps practicality, may lead to a peace-inducing forgiveness. But, should one forget? Is it possible to forget? Does not the past live in the present; indeed, does it not often shape the present? Further, the human brain tends to operate autonomously much of the time. It is also the repository, the archive, the file keeper, registering events (including thoughts and feelings?). Will your brain allow your mind to forget?

Is forgiveness the only way forward?

This is indeed strange, but illuminating. Very little children have been observed to turn their heads away when confronted on t.v. with acts of cruelty (probably the pretended cruelty in children’s programs). How so?

Then, older children are known – in all parts of the world – to display a sense of fairness, even when this was not taught to them. ‘That’s not fair’ is quite a common refrain, remarkably. It is actually heart-warming to observe. Are we born with this sense of justice, in much the same way that we are born with a capacity for, not only speech, but also the grammatical structures of language?

Most of us would probably have been bullied a little in our youth, been chastised or punished undeservedly by parents, teachers or other figures of authority. In these circumstances, the idea of forgiveness would/could not enter our minds, surely. When does forgiveness as a conscious thought (or even an act) then infiltrate our minds? Would not most of us have acquiesced with any of our ‘betters’ when they recommended forgiveness, but actually or subconsciously harboured the thought of retaliation? Or, if the latter were improbable, how about justice from the heavens? Somehow?

Having experienced racism during the White Australia era, when I would be the last to be served in the shops, and be told to go back to where I came from; denied equal opportunity or even justice at times at work; and suffered discrimination arising from tribalism, also at work (by a gang for whom the word ‘mass’ had great weight, but who were not racist, and were only looking after their own); I had to learn to forgive (partly for my own peace of mind). And have done so effectively. It is a great relief!

I could see no purpose in asking for cosmic justice. If it exists, it would surely operate autonomously! Read my memoir The Dance of Destiny, which offers, apart from all manner of interesting information, a glimpse of spirituality as I feel it.


Is there evidence of cosmic justice?

One of the most sensible lessons taught me as a child was that, while we could be anti-colonial, we should not turn against the British people, especially in their own terrain. My relatives also saw that the British people that they dealt with in Britain were just like the rest of us – with a few racist exceptions; the latter were of no concern, as the ignorant will always be with us.

Observing that most of the former colonial ‘powers’ of Europe are experiencing economic difficulties (eg. Portugal and Spain in particular, because they were reputed to have been brutal invaders/colonisers), it would be easy to claim that this is cosmic justice at work. But I do hope not. The many shall not suffer for the sins of a few. And one would hope that the Cosmos would not require today’s population to pay for the sins of their forefathers.

If this is the proper position to be taken, how would cosmic justice apply to nations? Who then shall pay for the bad behaviour of nations such as Spain, which looted Central and South America, those English who pirated some of this loot, and the Europeans who benefited economically by the flood of wealth filtering through their hands? Indeed, could the nations of Europe have expanded as colonisers without this vast loot?

In their greed to acquire possessions overseas, and then to protect their respective spheres of influence, did not these ‘powers’ play merry hell wherever they went? Apart from despoiling local or native cultural values and practices, did they not split coherent tribes behind the arbitrary and artificial borders they drew up? In contrast, their own national borders in Europe (although relatively new) reflected the terrain occupied by each ethno-religious tribe. Do not the terrible wars in Africa in the post-colonial era reflect this break-up of tribes, so that many peoples found themselves minority communities within the borders established by the Europeans? Divide and control was also reportedly a British practice, with tragic post-colonial consequences. Such consequences are on-going.

So, how are the millions suffering from the aftermath of colonialism to achieve justice? Or, is forgiveness the answer?

Do we need cosmic justice?

Cause and effect are clearly visible to us or felt by most of us. An interesting question – can there be an event for which there is no cause? Probably not, because everything in life as we experience it is so inter-connected; causal connections must exist, even if we cannot identify them. In this context, one of the most difficult lessons to be learnt is that we cannot prove the negative.

For example, a clever scientist claims insistently that there is no God. How is he going to prove that? There is no such process as reincarnation is another assertion. Proof? Citing the utterances or writings of someone one chooses to respect cannot prove that something is not so. How would he or they know with any certainty? More positively, it is impossible to prove that Man is the chosen species, or that a particular tribe represents a chosen people; their denial, however, cannot be proven either. My belief is that holding one’s own belief while not denying the beliefs of others can do no harm; this might make us better people too. Isn’t mutual tolerance a reasonable path to follow?

That is why I have been a freethinker all my life. I hold that the major religions are equal in their potential. I credit my parents for teaching me thus, while the proof of the pudding (so to speak) was the manner of respectful co-existence displayed by the various ethno-religious communities surrounding me in the land of my birth, British Malaya.

Yet, I yearned for cosmic justice to apply to the European colonial buccaneers with their accompanying traders, soldiers and priests for what they had done to us. What does this mean? Only that those who behave badly should pay for their sins – through some higher power acting on behalf of the oppressed. This is, of course, an ethical construct, no doubt coined by the weak and defenceless. But, does it not have merit?

Cosmic justice?

The colonial British did introduce law and order into many lands. It was a formalised, institutional form of regulation of society, super-imposed upon pre-existing practices, much of which would have been of long duration. However, justice is, in my view, of secondary significance in the British system; the primary issue is legality, even if it is only technical. In the event, those who care about justice are likely to hope for some form of cosmic justice. This, we hope, would be automatic in operation, cutting in at any time, or even after a long time – but yet unavoidable by the guilty.  So we hope.

A form of cosmic justice may be described as the Law of Cause and Effect. This is easier to understand. Every event has a cause; the event is the effect. Without developing this concept into something more complicated (for life, with its intricacies, is already complex), one can hope that this hoped-for law reflects justice at a cosmic level.

In what ways might this Law of Cause and Effect be seen to operate? When a marauding Western nation first opened up a self-sufficient and insular Japan for trade purposes and, much later, when Japan had copied the West and developed itself industrially to cope with the all-powerful colonial nations of the West, did not these nations then set out to constrain Japan’s ambitions to be now accepted as equal to them? Was it then the Law of Cause and Effect which led Japan to cleanse Asia of its colonial masters?

As a colonial subject caught up in Japan’s war against the Western nations, I initially disliked the Japanese for the difficult life imposed upon my family by this war; for my half-starved teenage existence for nearly 4 years (affecting the maturation of my spine, with lifetime adverse consequences); and for enabling a gang of anti-Japanese communists to terrorise us near the end of the Japanese military occupation. Looking back more objectively, I am grateful that Japan had helped to release us from bondage; for no self-respecting people would accept subjugation by a foreign intruder smugly sneering at their religio-cultural values and practices; and seeking to gather souls for Christ for no good purpose.

Read my short article ‘Japan white-ants European colonialism in Asia’ in

But we really need to know, don’t we?

How could we, as humans, not want to know – and about all manner of things? This innate need is reflected in the unending questions by small children. Very little children will point with one finger (how do they learn to do that?) to something or other of interest to them; later, when they have the words, to ask what it is. Even later, they will want to know why it is so. What is it doing? How did it get there? And so on.

Not all children fit this mould. Indeed, I once had to ask certain teachers of science in a high school why they were not encouraging their students to ask ‘Why is it so.’ Of course, there is a time and place for such questioning, as I discovered to my dismay. Being bored during a chemistry lesson in high school (when we were learning how to make steel), I asked why a dog’s tail was curled upwards!

Some of us will never grow up. We will continue to ask: What’s that? How does it work? In a universe which refuses to allow us ordinary folk to see it as it is, we rely on experts. They observe, measure, calculate, and each conclusions. Then, some will refuse to change their conclusions until any challenger produces convincing evidence to support an alternative view. Once any expert takes such a stance, any hope of coming to grips with reality is somewhat constrained. What is it that leads to such recalcitrance? Ego? Security in stability?

In Egyptology, the pyramids are apparently claimed to be only tombs. And how were the extremely large blocks of stone in the pyramids, and wherever else they are found (eg. Bolivia, Mexico, Peru), manoeuvred and manipulated? By human labour, of course; what wonderful physiques those labourers must have had! And it was all done with stone tools!

In the physical and biological sciences, uniformitarianism still holds sway. So it is reported. All change has therefore to be very, very slow. Then there other blind spots – seemingly by choice. What about the universal flood (sudden and totally disastrous) recounted in myths from all over the world? Or cosmic catastrophes which are known to have occurred? And which might explain the sudden appearance of new viable species of fauna.

As well, do Hindu and other Eastern religious beliefs have to have been originated more recently than the Old Testament? Is it true that ‘black’ people (ie. those in Egypt, Sumer, and all the lands further east populated by other coloured peoples) couldn’t possibly have been ahead of the Athenians in matters philosophical? Interestingly, recently a historian claimed Europe as encompassing Eurasia; that is, to include western Asia; how far east would his Europe extend? Why does he seek to re-define Europe? I find some men of learning more mysterious than the Cosmos.

How on earth are we going to know even the present if we refuse to examine the past with an open mind? How much of what we are taught is tentative conjecture? I include the Big Bang and the theory of evolution in this category. We reject the myths of yesteryear about significant events which are said to have occurred back in time, but hold on to modern myths as sacred. Do we really want to know?