Way out for boat people
There is some good news
for boat people or those braving the fiery waters of the oceans
in crowded boats in search of employment in distant lands such
as Australia. The Australian Government is exploring the
possibility of getting down around 200, 000 Sri Lankan unskilled
labourers through legal means. It is reported that a high
ranking Australian representative is discussing the matter with
the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment and other relevant
Perhaps, the Australian authorities may have been moved by
the plight of those who are trying to enter their shores
illegally. It was only two or three days ago that a boat
carrying migrants capsized in the Australian waters. Only a few
could be saved.
Big time smugglers dealing with human trafficking are
exploiting the poverty and destitution of innocent persons and
luring them to undertake the risky boat ride in search of
Negombo has become a centre from where such boats sail off
secretly. Time and again the police have arrested the emigrants
but the practice goes on unabated. Actually, these hapless
victims are staking their lives and the future, and join such
arduous expeditions due to despair. They are being duped by
swindlers for whom it is lucrative business.
It is mostly unskilled labour that fall prey to these
swindlers. It is necessary to carry out awareness campaigns for
possible victims. Dangers of such efforts to seek entry to
foreign lands on the sly, including arrest, incarceration and
even death on the high seas should be made known to persons
liable to fall victim and their families.
The best way out for such boat people is to find a legal way
out. It is such a way out that the Australian authorities are
proposing. They should be thanked for their humanitarian
gesture. One could also recall how Italy too provided such a
legal way out for those aspiring to find employment in Italy,
though the number of positions offered was much less.
The demand for unskilled labour, however, is not likely to go
up in foreign lands. On the contrary, it is most likely to come
down. Besides unskilled labourers are being thrown out of jobs
in most developed countries due to the effects of the global
Hence, the Australian offfer, at best, could only be a
temporary and partial solution to the problem. A permanent
answer could come only from developing the country, expanding
the productive sectors of the economy, especially industries.
Providing unskilled labour with skill development opportunities
is also a temporary but necessary measure to lure them away from
the dangerous practice of seeeking greener pastures in distant
lands stealthily undertaking highly risky sea adventures.
Going to prison for holidays
Malaysia has come up with a new tourism promotion package.
Believe it or not, it seems very novel and original. It is
called Prison Package or rather it offers a three - day prison
holiday for all tourists willing to pay a price.
Until now the general perception of a prison is where the
inmates are fed at state expense. Yet according to the proposed
package they have to be paid for. What more, they have to don
the prison outfit and take prison meals.
In fact a new prison is being built in the State of Malacca
at a cost of 87 million dollars to accommodate tourists.
The authorities here could take a cue from their Malaysian
counterparts. They could offer a similar package to some of the
prison inmates who at present wish to avoid the inconvenience of
prison life. There were instances when certain influential
politicos and others who land themselves in prison for various
reasons trying to bribe authorities for a few comforts they miss
They need not enter the prison hospital or the Government
hospital any more. They could buy their room, with or without
air-conditioning, five-star menu, Wi-fi facilities, pop music,
home-theatre systems, wireless telephones etc. at a price
commensurate with their Ďstatusí. The ordinary mortals, common
criminals, and the rest that are housed in the normal prisons
would have no reason to complain.
If they have any more room left they could also incarcerate
the unruly politicos ala Mutuhettigama too and ask them to pay
for their safe custody.