Monday, July 18, 2005

Illegal migrants

People smuggling/trafficking/employment agencies are the flavour of the day:

Smuggling asylum seekers into Australia - Jailed. Most of these people are fleeing their country due to persecution, and 353 drowned when the boat they were put in sank. This is not rhetoric, the Australian government usually finds in favour of these arrivees. These people take a risky boat journey because the Australian government makes it impossible to arrive by plane. Question: Who is the bastard here?

Illegal Indonesian workers in Malaysia - Hunting Malaysia's illegal migrants

Illegal Malaysian workers in UK - People smuggler jailed for 7 years

A couple of years ago, I was at one of the dockside restaurants at Sydney. Eyeballing the waiters, at least half of them look like Malaysian Chinese. One guy I spoke to came from Sabah (I didn't ask whether he was illegal or not). He was working as an IT professional at a Japanese bank at Malaysia's off shore banking centres (the name slips me now), and he's now working at a restaurant in Australia because conditions were better. These people are paid standard award wages by the way, and these people don't plan to stick around for ever, once they have some savings, they head back home.

Working without permit is illegal under Australia's laws. But, gee, you'd have to frame these folks as vermin you one can think of this as a crime. This reminds me of the Disney version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, where the Judge Frollo persecuted illegal gypsy migrants.

As for Martin Moo - jailed for finding jobs for 300 people - sure he broke the law, but where was the crime? These people didn't arrive on unsafe boats, but came through international flights through Heathrow. The press release from the National Crime Squad mentions "immigrants would often pay large sums of money to individuals who would then facilitate their travel to the UK and their employment here". Well, in Australia, the government hospitals pay the recruitment agencies to recruit doctors from countries which have worse doctor-shortages. Who is the criminal here?

The laws are really bent if it is legal for a Japanese bank to set up shop overseas, pay university graduates less money than a waiter in Australia, but make it illegal for an Australian shopkeeper to hire off-shore workers at award wages.



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