PROTECTING REFUGEES, PRESERVING STATE SOVEREIGNTY AND MANDATING EQUITABLE INTERNATIONAL BURDEN-SHARING: FINDING THE BALANCE FOR MALAYSIA
The main international treaty pertaining to refugees and asylum-seekers is the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 and its 1967 Protocol. Many countries within the region of Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, had not ratified or acceded to the treaty. There are many reasons to it but one of the main reasons relates to the sovereignty of the nation which include cross-border movements and for fear of its negative impact to the security of the nation. The non-recognition of refugees and asylum-seekers together with the absence of the legal framework as required under the Convention cause hardship and compromise the safety of refugees and asylum-seekers. This article investigates the historical aspect of migration within the Malay Archipelago and shows how Malaysia has always welcomed the integration of others into its community. The article then discusses the dilemma faced by a country such as Malaysia and the manner upon which Malaysia seeks to contribute to the aim of the abovementioned treaty by ensuring that the humanitarian needs of individuals who are fleeing their country as refugees and asylum-seekers are fulfilled. This article then highlights some of the current initiatives to overcome the humanitarian challenges pertaining to refugees and asylum-seekers. The article finally discusses the means to assuage the hesitancy of Malaysia in ratifying or acceding to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 and its 1967 Protocol, including mandating equitable international burden sharing.