source from Nine News, 29 May 2011
Liberal MP and former immigration minister Philip Ruddock says there are needier people in need of resettlement in Australia than those from Burma.
It is one of the chief reasons he rejects the federal government’s proposed asylum seeker swap deal with Malaysia.
The government is on the brink of signing a deal under which 800 asylum seekers would be sent to Malaysia, with Australia accepting 4000 refugees in return.
Malaysia is home to about 90,000 asylum seekers and refugees, of whom 92 per cent are Burmese – meaning they will make up the bulk of the contingent headed to Australia.
But Mr Ruddock thinks this is unfair.
"I don’t know whether the Burmese are the most appropriate people in need of resettlement in the world," he told Sky News on Sunday.
"It is part of a deal that they get a priority place.
"But if (those spots) are used up in a political solution, the help that’s needed for those who need it most will be denied."
Poor living standards and crackdowns on ethnic minorities, such as the Shan and Karen, have driven millions to flee Burma, which a military dictatorship has ruled since 1962.
Seven in every 100 children will die before the age of five, mostly due to preventable diseases, but the junta spends just two per cent of its budget on health.
Mr Ruddock said there were more genuine refugees elsewhere.
"If you go to the UNHCR, they will tell you we have to look at those people who are unsafe where they are, where they have no prospect of ever being returned home, where they are genuine refugees," he said