Rohingya: Cries Falling on Deaf Ears

Many are wandering through Thailand, particularly heading past the ThaiSouth, towards the Malaysian border. Others resort to the unavoidable crowding of travel by sea. Both ways, many have lost their lives in the attempt, or once in Muslim-majority Malaysia, they find that the "Caring Society" doesn't exist.


Bangkok, a sprawling metropolis that seems to consume those with little money, or those who are ignorant of the prevalent social pyramid that doesn't allow the stateless marginalized communities to survive, or barely. Yet this capital city of Thailand harbors small groups of Rohingya, those who seek a temporary livelihood, before saving what they can for the journey down to Malaysia. Bangkok is definitely not the land of opportunities for many Rohingya refugees. To some, the city is a crowded Buddhist location, while the deep south is wrecked with daily violence, where Thai fundamental extremists slaughter fellow Muslims in an abandonment of blood and tears.


Aung San Suu Kyi is not interested to intervene, perhaps preferring a neutral stand while the oppression continues. As for Thein Sein, the president of Burma, a former military commander who replaced his blood-splattered uniform with a fancy suit, he prefers to take the lead in welcoming foreign investment. And I'm sure he takes delight in the uproar of disappointment from the international and local community of Suu Kyi's inability to live up to her name of change and humanity. A disgraced, bewildered heroine is what the junta wants.

Suu Kyi, offers no real solution to halt the genocide of Rohingya, while Thein Sein prefers to pull the strings in a gallant play of puppetry. Something that he and many Burmese officials are quite proficient, they have to a large extent maneuvered ASEAN and the Western "civilized" world to jump into the bandwagon of business opportunities.

I've spoken to a handful of young Rohingya, living in the slums of Bangkok. They are bitter, having to escape their homes and some whose immediate family members were butchered by Buddhist Burmese radicals, and now finding themselves in the midst of an extremely complacent regional society. They want refuge, they were hoping for some positive news from Muslim Malaysians, at least to allow them sanctuary and then advocate their cause, not for riches or citizenship, but to influence ASEAN member state, Burma.

Bitterness, indeed. The Malaysian government does nothing to exercise its influence within the region, or with Burma, much less with the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Regardless of the usual Muslim-solidarity propaganda, even the Malaysian authorities treat Rohinya refugees as illegal immigrants, while the UN agencies cringe at the thought of swaying the political drama in Putrajaya.

The Thai Muslim population, in the slums of Bangkok and in some villages in the ThaiSouth, have offered whatever they can muster, along with the Thai government's temporary aid to the growing number of Rohingya community.

I do not feel embarrassed that Malaysian society and government agencies are doing little for these stateless, oppressed people. I merely feel contempt that with all the boasts of Malaysian achievements, and that occasional furore in the name of Muslim solidarity, that we choose to treat the Rohingya refugees more like public nuisance. Xenophobia? Perhaps, or maybe Malaysians look down upon those without money and brand them vagrants.

It's not just a Thai problem. Its about humanity in Malaysia, in the region, and beyond. Its about the yearning radiating from our hearts, that craving to help others. Has society lost its social instinct for compassion and justice? At the rate we are going, we'll find ourselves living a life devoid of reason. Merely walking, zombified, deprived of the elements that makes us human.

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