“The boat people” – extracts

This is the first short, story from ‘Pithy Perspectives,’ a bicultural series of wacky, or weird, or uplifting or intriguing or imaginative thought-bubbles of mine.

“Go and ask that miserable-looking Asiatic who calls himself captain. Tell him that we need at least two porters.”

“Yes, dear.”

A little later, quite a little later, Rueben returns, looking mystified. “There’s no one in the uniform of a ship’s officer to be seen” he tells Miriam.

“Nonsense,” responds Miriam. “Look more carefully below deck. The officers are probably hiding in their cabins.”

“Why would they do that, dear?”

“Because that’s what these Asiatics are like. They are not comfortable in the presence of white people, are they?”


At the Customs barrier, he sees a bearded Sikh, resplendent in a most colorful turban, talking to a black man, as colleagues might. Approaching the latter, Rueben calls out “You! Come and give us a hand with our luggage. I will pay you well.”

“Pardon?” responds the black man, with the accent of a native of north England.

“I need a hand, man. Let’s go.”

“Excuse me, sir, I am the Immigration Officer on duty here.”


I need to examine your entry papers most carefully. We do not want any more illegal entrants,” says the public servant silkily, with suave satisfaction.

“And I will need to examine the contents of your luggage equally carefully,” interjects the Customs Officer, looking as bland as only an Oriental can, but with a broad Scottish accent. He is careful not to smile, although his turban seems to tremble slightly.


Shocked out of her mind at seeing a white man, particularly her husband, doing the work of coolies, Miriam decides that she would compensate for the more brutish life of the future by buying a yacht, as her former compatriots now resident in coastal Sydney had done.

She is not to know that these new arrivals have already been described as the second-wave boat people. Where the first wave had arrived illegally by boat from East Asia in order to escape a ‘red’ regime, the second wave arrived legally to escape a ‘black’ regime, and promptly bought a boat.






What does societal integration mean?

I have written about the desirability of achieving one people from diverse origins. Let me explain. We humans may be truly one people, created by God. We are certainly one people living under the auspicious of the sun. Yet, we are divided by national borders – and necessarily so, for reasons of security, at least. Most regrettably, we are also divided by religious affiliation. Yet, each religion (or each sect within a religion) seeks only to guide its flock to God.

Since religions are artificial man-made ideational constructs, one would hope that, one day, those of us who are religious will accept that we are all reliant upon the one and only God of mankind to sustain us, if not to guide us; and that in our relationship with our Creator, it would be desirable, indeed necessary, to deny any divisive dogma derived from institutional religion.

I would doubt very much if there are any exclusive or unique paths to our Creator, as may be claimed, unlike those cemeteries which separate the dead by religious sect. I also doubt that there are people chosen by God over all others; there is no evidence of that. Thus, tribal differences, which reflect accidents of birth linked by mutual support, are temporary in their duration. What is known as history confirms that. Ethno-religious communities often signify little more than either geographical or politico-societal isolation at an earlier time.

In an immigrant-created and/or immigrant-sustained nation, societal integration then means the avoidance of exclusive zones of residence based upon ethno-religious differences. It also means that, united spiritually by co-creation, and linked to one another by a defining national border and its associated structures of governance, all the residents would desirably seek a certain unity. This unity would be one of proud belonging to a coherent over-arching polity subsuming ethno-cultural differences; all that while praying, eating, dressing, and celebrating one’s festivals according to one’s culture. This would be done without limiting the right of others to express their own cultural values and practices.

No one’s religio-cultural values can surely over-ride those of others in a multi-ethnic domain, as they often do now. In a comparable manner, those who do not need God, or those who are spiritual rather than religious, would be left in peace. None of us, none of our religio-political leaders, is qualified to dictate to others as to how they should express their relationship with their Creator. We may learn this one day through the operation of the Law of Cosmic Justice.

Societal integration would thus represent togetherness blended with mutual acceptance of surface differences, while each individual seeks that which his soul desires.

The need for stability in daily life


Since many explanations about existence of relevance to us all are, in my view, no more than unproven or unprovable theories, most of us live our lives as sensibly as we can, seeking stability on Earth too. However, in modern times, migration into foreign climes is a feature of societal existence, disrupting the pre-existing stability. I was one of the intruders, as was my father in another country.

While the new arrivals learn to give up those of their cultural practices which contradict the institutions and leading mores of the host nation, the host people learn to reciprocally modify their earlier views of the intrusive arrivals. Where the arrivals are needed and are thereby eventually welcomed, migrant settlement assistance can be provided by both good-hearted individuals and a responsible government. Thus, daily life can continue, with mutual adaptation, to ensure societal stability.

See my first book ‘Destiny Will Out: the experiences of a multicultural Malayan in White Australia.’ The book is based on my experiences, both as an immigrant settler, and a public official responsible for migrant settlement policies. The great success of Australia’s massive immigration and settlement programs are brought out in the book.

Crucial questions do arise. Should not immigrants offer benefits to the nation they seek to join which exceeds the costs associated with their entry? Should not entry be through the front door – through careful selection – than through forced entry by the back door? How much stress can a resident population cope with, through an on-going entry of immigrants and asylum seekers of increasing ethno-cultural diversity? Are not residents entitled to a life of reasonable stability?