Myanmar Refugee/Migrant pilot Project Proposal II

Proposal to set up

 Myanmar Refugee/Migrant pilot Project

as A test case to settle

 This is Part 2; you can read part1


F.  Our Proposal

Our prop osal is quite simple but may prove to be a very big burden and responsibility on UNHCR and its parent, the UN.

1.     Please just consider to start to issue UNHCR Certificate of Identity in lieu of International Passports (C of I or PP) to all the Burmese refugees, illegal immigrants or any Burmese/Myanmar citizens so that all of them can freely apply for visas and search for jobs around the world.

2.   UNHCR has to work with its parent United Nations, ILO, WTO, WHO, UNDP, UNICEF, international and local NGO s, World Bank, Interpol and the countries around the world in order to successfully implement this pilot project.

3.     UNHCR and UN should talk to the countries that are pushing for free trade agreements through WTO, negotiating individually or in groups for various forms of mutual treaties of Free Trade Area (FTA) just to get permission to increase the free flow of their goods and products w ith GLOBLISATION. Why should there be a desire to keep out the people, professionals, skilled and unskilled labour?  UNHCR and UN should initiate, persuade, negotiate, and press for free manpower mobilization to balance the socio-economic imbalances around the world.

        In reality, USA and EU countries do not have bad records in allowing the import of manpower import in different forms.  However, some countries such as Japan, Korea, and Taiwan dominate the export market around the world, but fail to accept the manpower import satisfactorily.  Although there are a lot of illegals and unrecognised refugees working in their countries, they fail to legalise nor allow adequate numbers of them to work legally in their countries.  There is a definite imbalance of flow between free movement of goods and manpower.

4.     UNHCR should form a manpower training, management and Supply Company.  UNHCR has to negotiate with the multinational companies and countries around the world to which to eventually export the trained manpower.  The fear of the migrants pulling down the salary scale reducing the bargaining power of the trade unions is unfounded.  It is unavoidable since with globalisation, outsourcing and shifting of factories to countries offering cheap labour is a trend nowadays.  In addition, there is a trend of regional countries’ groupings slowly following the EU policy of freer manpower mobility.

5.     UNHCR has to open vocational training and language training centres according to the demand for manpower, or order, make commitments or contract with countries all over the world.  They should include a briefing on the host countries’ customs, culture, laws, rules and regulations.  Do and don’ts are just as important to be learnt.  A briefing on the host country’s geography, climate and history may also help to prepare the refugees to face their future in their new country.

6.     To fund this project, UNHCR could start with its budget but could re quest funds from the donor countries which are used to accepting refugees and spending on the support of refugees.  UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, World Bank, EU, ASEAN countries and host countries could also chip in.

        In the long run, UNHCR could strike deals as a Manpower Management Company and charge the employers as well as request rebates from the income tax department and other levies charged by the employer countries.  UNHCR could even charge some fees from the refugees who become high income earners.  UNHCR could get back the money it expended on the refugees by a special arrangement with the employers to cut a small percentage of the pay as the pay-back fees for their expenses.

7.     UNHCR could arrange with some international insurance companies for the refugees’ social security, future health and financial needs, and the education needs of their children.  They should be made to pay a portion of their monthly salary as instalments via a monthly deduction from their salary.  Their employers and the government should make some arrangement for rebates, contributions or income tax exemptions.

8.     UNHCR could arrange for or coordinate with some multinational companies and some host countries or neighbours of Burma/Myanmar to form joint venture industrial towns.  The local government’s investment would be land and some infrastructure necessities, UNHCR could manage the manpower, and multinational companies could provide the financing and technology.

     &nbs p;  UNHCR could use this manpower pool for the UN’s various development projects around the world and for its HQ.  UNHCR could even use some suitable persons as security personnel in UN related offices and projects worldwide, and as reinforcement units to help the UN peace keepers around the world.

9.     If UNHCR could guarantee that

(i)                  those refugee workers who hold the UNHCR Certificate of Identity Card (PP) would be working only on normal contract basis:

(ii)               that in the event of any problems arising, UNHCR would re-accept the workers and return them, under strict conditions, to the UNCHR controlled camps near the Burmese border; and

(iii)               that there are no obligations on the host countries to accept these workers permanently as citizens, we hope many countries would be willing to contact UNHCR for manpower supply.

(a)   If a refugee finished his contract with an unblemished record, UNHCR could search for a job for him in other countries or temporarily repatriate him to the UNHCR camps at the border.

(b)   If a refugee is associated with any criminal activities, he should be blacklisted and permanently sent back to the UNHCR camps at the Burmese border.  If UNHCR could guarantee that kind of taking back or repatriation, there would be many countries which would dare to issue work visas to the refugees.  Most of the countries fear that the refugees or migrant workers would be stuck in their country and that country would become permanently responsible for them, and that would form a really very big burden for them.  If there is no guarantee of repatriation, even if the authorities are sympathetic and wish to grant Work Permits or Employment Passes, workers’ unions or organizations and ordinary people would oppose their governments’ actions.

(c)    To repatriate the sailors, there are fixed airfares from anywhere to t he country of origin.  UNHCR could negotiate that kind of repatriation fares.


10.   Actually many countries need various foreign workers, professionals, skilled, semiskilled and ordinary workers.  UNHCR should negotiate to fulfil the demand from its pool of manpower.  Even host countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and developed countries like USA, EU, Australia , Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and many other countries, are short of manpower to fill different positions.

11.   UNHCR must check the backgrounds of criminal elements only and verify their certificates.  UNHCR has to work with the host country’s police.  The police and security agencies of the country are engaged with Interpol to weed out criminal elements and the terrorism threat.

12.   UNHCR C of I (PP) holders should not be allowed to use the accepted countries as platforms to attack the country of origin and should abide by the laws of their new countries. Even if the new country’s laws are liberal and allow political movements, PP holders should not be allowed to start the armed struggle or any form of military aggression.

13. (a) Even before repatriation to the third country, host countries could easily persuade UNHCR to employ PP holders on a short term or temporary basis.

      (b) Monitoring the criminal elements found among the former illegal migrants would be an easier task for the security and law and order authorities in the host countries.

      (c) The host countries could charge levies and income taxes.

      (d) Even the burden on the countries’ health and educational system would be reduced the host countries could negotiate with the UNHCR and other related agencies and multinational companies or employers to chip in or take care of all the needs of those refugees. There may even be increased demands for of UNHCR C of I holders as they may wish to work in more developed countries where they could earn more.

14.   UNHCR should seriously consider this idea or proposal, brainstorm on it, modify, fine-tune and use it to promote and create a better, peaceful and prosperous world.

15.   The greatest fear of host countries and UNHCR would be more people coming out of Burma/Myanmar. However, if we read and consider the following facts, our proposal is at least worth some consideration:

  • If the project is a failure, we all could stop this pilot project at any time.

  • If successful, this may be the best help the world could offer to all the Burmese/Myanmar citizens.

  • Let the Junta rot inside the country alone.  The people would gain knowledge, skill, experience and wealth.  Once there are changes, most of them will go back to their hometown and contribute to the rapid   development of our country.

  • It is clear that we cannot successfully do anything for the regime change in Burma/Myanmar now.

  • The present system being practised by UNHCR’s refugee system is almost a failure especially because of its slow pace. This proposal, if implemented, would be the best gift to all the people of Burma/Myanmar.

·It is also obvious that if successful, this pilot project could be extended to benefit the millions of refugees all over the world.

G.  Possible benefits to ALL parties.

1.     It is obvious and self-explanatory that all of the refugees and illegal immigrants will benefit from this project.

2.     Legal migrants such as professionals, semi-skilled labourers, skilled and unskilled labourers would get similar benefits.

3.     Host countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh and India, could reap the fruits of this project instead of having to feed and tolerate the problem of the refugees.  (For explanation, see below.)

4.     Third party or recipient countries.  (For explanation, see below.)

5.     UNHCR and parent United Nations.  (For explanation, see below.)

6.     If this pilot project is successful, it can be used to benefit all t he refugees all over the world.

7.     Correct the imbalance or lopsided wealth in the world.  Globalisation, WTO and FTA encourage trade, and this project would reciprocally encourage and facilitate Manpower Mobilization and distribution of wealth.

8.     We should seriously consider this idea or proposal, brainstorm on it, modify, fine-tune and use it to promote and create a better, peaceful and prosperous world.  If UNHCR could issue Certificate of Identity as International Passports for all the refugees, it should start the pilot project with Burmese refugees and Burmese illegal immigrants without much differentiation because it could be a very good test pilot project.

9.     The fear that host countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India and others, have of these unwanted people, asylum seeker refugees and undocumented workers being present in their country on a permanent basis, could be reduced.  Actually if they could travel and search for work in other parts of the world, these people would prefer to go out and work rather than to stay back in the present host countries.  Because the salary scales of these host countries are so low, the professionals here are being paid the same salaries as  the unskilled workers in developed countries.  If our proposal is put into practice, the situation would be reversed and the host countries would have to find ways to attract these formerly unwanted people.  Employers could save the time and money to import labour.  Instead of the usual practice of just accepting the foreign workers supplied by the agents, they could interview in advance.  There would be no need to pay the middleman.  Most of the displaced persons are already in the country, can communicate in the language, and already know the culture of the host country.  In addition, some of them are already in possession of the necessary work-experience.

10.   Third countries are also less burdened with having to accept these UNHCR C of I (Passport) holders as the countries no longer need to offer asylum on a permanent basis to the displaced persons, initially giving them support as refugees and later having to accept them as citizens.  These third countries are released from that permanent burden, by stopping the issuance of work visas for the displaced persons and by arranging with UNCHR to relocate them to other countries.  With the same limited budget for refugees now, third countries could take on more manpower, even on a temporary basis.

(a)   UNHCR C of I (Passport) holders could be accepted on contract basis according to the needs of the countries and their demand for labour.  If they commit any crime, or if their job perform ance is unsatisfactory, or if they breach the work contract, they could be sacked.   Unlike the refugees whom the countries had already committed to permanently accept, the third countries could request UNHCR to relocate these unwanted persons and foreigners to other countries.  Now the conditions would be more flexible.

(b)   < B style=”mso-bidi-font-weight: normal”>Should the third countries be satisfied with the job performance, skills, and character of those UNHCR C of I (Passport) holders the countries could offer Permanent Residency Status (e.g. Green Card in US, Red IC in Malaysia, etc.) to the Passport holders, and even later offer them  citizenship according to the individual country’s rules and regulations.  It would be an option, not an obligation like the present system.  Host and third countries would be free to decide on their own rules and regulations.






From “Brain Drain” to “Brain Gain”


Almost every country complains about “Brain drain”

but most of them fail to tap it to get “Brain gain”.


Nowadays, with the process of globalisation process, it is almost futile to complain about brain drain but governments should try to gain from this phenomenon.  Why not tap the other countries’ brains as your “Brain Gain”?  We all know that not only the poor countries but developing countries of ASEAN like Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, are losing their professionals, well-trained scientists, doctors, nurses, and other skilled workers to developed countries.  But even the USA, UK and EU countries are experiencing this dilemma nowadays.  Brain drain affects almost all countries.  The Europeans have had a brain d rain to North America for centuries and even today the best and brightest continue to migrate there. In addition, some of the brains from the West, including Australia, are now migrating to oil-rich Arab countries and also to the countries in the East again.


There is a great demand for professionals and all types of skilled workers around the world.  Some countries recognised the demand and are accepting limited n umbers of skilled workers through proper channels and of course abiding with strict rules and regulations. However, a lot of countries around the world depend on illegal cheap labour, sometimes because governments could not control the practice but also sometimes because the authorities unofficially closed their eyes as long as the illegals posed no problems.


All the countries around the world wish to participate in the WTO and some of the countries are negotiating individually or in groups to get Free Trade Agreements.  All the countries just want to get permission to export their products via GLOBLISATION.  Why should a country want to keep out the people, professionals, skilled and unskilled labourers from free mobilization by imposing barriers, strict rules and regulations?


The United States of America was known to be one of the most generous, kind, tolerant and respective countries in the whole world before September 11, 2001.  Its arms were always open to accept freedom seekers and legitimate migrants.  No wonder the USA is known to be the melting pot of migrants.  The country was proud of this reputation and had also reciprocally gained a lot from that farsighted basic policy based on humanitarian grounds.  USA gains profits because it values the widening of an assortment of gene pools, w hich leads to increased talents.


Migrants usually never enter with empty hands or brains.  They bring along their capital, talents, intelligence, knowledge, skills and contacts.  Trade networks widen and trade ties establish among various migrants and also with their old motherlands. For example, US had gained a lot from the migration of Jews.  The Nazi era Jews not only brought in the above-mentioned benefits but also included some rocket and nuclear technologies.


Former Secretary of States Henery Kissinger and Madeleine Albright are Jews. Albright is a first generation migrant who had arrived in USA during her teenage years.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is also a famous immigrant.


Even all the previous and present Prime Ministers of Malaysia have immigrant blood.  They have done a lot for Malaysia’s present progress and prosperity.< /div>


Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra also has Yunan Chinese migrant blood.


The first generatio n of migrants knew and accepted what they were.  They knew that they were just foreigners and were grateful to the host country.  They were happy because they were accepted and allowed to settle in the new paradise.  The hardships and numerous problems in their old countries were still fresh in their memories and were sometimes refreshed by the nightmares which replayed their sufferings.  They were willing to accept all the preconditions, restrictions, rules and regulations even if these were unfair or unfavourable to them, just to be allowed to stay in the host country.  They were glad to struggle and overcome all the hardships they encountered, sometimes even with a spirit of ecstasy.  They had a fighting, never-say-di e  spirit and almost always worked hard for long hours.  They did not mind even if they had to work with lower wages and without much dignity.


Migrant workers are well known to face ‘three D’ work, i.e. Dangerous, Dirty and Difficult jobs or demeaning jobs.


3.  Another testimony of benefit to host country


I want here to quote an article from the 27.01.1999 issue of The Sydney Morning Herald entitled “A migrant nation still” to offer a rare view on the issue of migrants.


“One of the recurring themes of Australia Day speeches has been recognition of the valuable contribution migrants have made to this country.  Anyone who has lived in Australia through 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s would appreciate this. 


The waves of mainly British and Irish migrants in the 19th and early 20th centuries built this country’s economic infrastructure, wrote its fundamental laws, erected its political institutions and gave it its distinctive identity. 


Postwar migrants, first from southern and eastern Europe, and then from the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, brought skills in short supply, enriched the culture and infused a certain vitality into Australia’s national character. 


Australia, in short, is a migrant country and will remain a migrant country for the foreseeable future.  Its immigration policy should reflect this by remaining generous and non-discriminatory.


Various arguments have been advanced against this proposition.  One of the intellectually more appealing is that this is a dry and largely barren continent that cannot support an ever-increasing population.  Proponents of zero population growth contend that Australia is already overpopulated – or close to it – in terms of available essential resources, including clean water and arable land.  But this is an argument that judges a country’s capacity to carry a population on the basis of existing technologies, patterns of land use and lifestyles.  It ignores the creative relationship between a people and their natural environment.  In fact the colony almost perished for lack of food in its first 10 years.


But Australia now supports almost 20 million inhabitants and while the possibilities aren’t limitless, they are nowhere near exhausted.


Other arguments raised against continuing high immigration levels reflect unsubstantiated fears and unacceptable prejudices:


It is often claimed, for example, that migrants compete for jobs with native-born Australians and that they often win the contest because they are prepared to work for less money or reduced working conditions.  That may be true in some cases, but it is not the rule. 


Furthermore, migrants also generate jobs by enlarging the market for locally produced goods and by creating new markets for goods and services that were not produced before they arrived.


It is also said that the more migrants there are, the less likely they will be to assimilate to the host society’s laws, conventions and customs.  That may be so, but the result is not necessarily social division or cultural subversion.  Typically it is change for the better.  If migrants didn’t challenge the accepted ways of doing things or try to alter the social situations they encounter, Australia would have lost a vital part of the energy, which makes it what it is today.


Australia would be a poorer place to live in in every sense of the word.  To believe otherwise is to be deluded by nostalgia. 


There will always be problems of resettlement and adjustment – many of which ethnic communities at times foolishly choose to ignore or disown.  But these problems should not be exaggerated or allowed to detract from the overall good sense of the existing immigration program when the bunting has been swept up from Australia Day.”







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