Ali and Alvin: You hit me, I hit you


First and foremost allow me to stress that the paragraphs below are not  intended to address the legality of the Government in cancelling our national famed duo Ali and Alvin’s passport nor is it to discuss the duo’s act that led to their flight. Rather, it is to recall the Government’s position with regards to persons seeking asylum.

Just last month, Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi agreed to issue refugee cards to refugees in Malaysia. This is indeed a welcoming move and a step forward towards the protection of refugees in the country. Most importantly, the Government’s action could be inferred as an act of recognising or condoning one’s right to seek asylum in Malaysia.

On the regional front, it is also timely to recall that Malaysia, being a committed member of the ASEAN bloc, agreed in 2012 to the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. Article 16 of the Declaration states, “Every person has the right to seek and receive asylum in another State in accordance with the laws of such State and applicable international agreements”.

In the international arena, Malaysia has agreed to the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, 1990. Article 12 of the Declaration states: “Every man shall have the right, within the framework of Shari’ah, to free movement and to select his place of residence whether inside or outside his country and if persecuted, is entitled to seek asylum in another country…”.

With these in mind, one would naturally question where does the Government stand on the right of a person seeking asylum. Is the Government committed to upholding what it says in the international, regional and domestic stage or are its previous commitments made for a more cynical reason. If the former is true then the Government must necessarily respect the right of its nationals in seeking asylum elsewhere regardless of their offences against the country.

If however, the latter is true, then the Government must immediately renounce its earlier commitments in those international declarations and roll back all policies which recognises or infers such right to seek asylum.

It is most important for the Government to be decisive on this issue and to walk the talk as it is not difficult for anyone to misinterpret the Government’s act in revoking the passports as no more than an act of “You hit me, I hit you”.