Aussie rules?

February 24, 2014

A recent proposal from Australia to the Cambodia government has people here in Phnom Penh agog, as well as most Australians of even the slightest liberal viewpoint.

A proposal from the Australian Foreign Minister that Cambodia resettle refugees seeking asylum in Australia has been greeted with hilarity here.

Speaking to the press on Saturday, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong revealed that his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, had made the request in talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, a proposal that the government was taking “very seriously”, he said.

Now, it’s easy to mock the proposal: most economic migrants would find Cambodia’s nonexistent welfare system, health care and education a bit of a black mark. An average daily wage of $1 is probably not what they were looking for when they got on the boats to go to Oz.

But genuine political refugees are unlikely to be particularly safe here. In 2009, Cambodia sent 20 Uighur refugees back to China after they were smuggled into the country by a Christian group. The 20 Uighurs said they were fleeing persecution after a crackdown that followed riots in western China.

The deportation, in the face of protests by the United States, the United Nations and human rights groups, came two days before China signed 14 trade deals with Cambodia, worth approximately $1.2 billion.

Before being deported, several of the asylum seekers told the office of the UNHCR that they feared long jail terms or even the death penalty. At least two of them have since been sentenced to life in China’s lovely prison system. Information on the others is unavailable.

Sarah Hanson-Young, an Australian Greens party senator and immigration spokeswoman says “Sending refugees to Cambodia is neither a sustainable or reasonable response to the fact that people seek safety from war and terror by coming to Australia.”

Cambodian Center for Human Rights president Ou Virak told a local paper that Cambodia had a “horrible” refugee rights record. “We don’t have the financial capacity but we also don’t have the political will [for] refugees who need protection, especially when most refugees are of a political nature,” he said.

Meanwhile, people have been asking me about the progress of Harley the puppy. Well, firstly, we’ve decided he has oppositional defiant disorder, which is described as “an ongoing pattern of anger-guided disobedience, hostility, and defiant behaviour toward authority figures that goes beyond the bounds of normal puppy behaviour.” Yep, that’s Harley.

He’s also become enormous. Here is a picture of him considering whether to eat an entire, real, horse.  Honestly.


Harley contemplating his horse d’oevres.

And here is a picture of him trying to stop me taking his picture.


So Harley is fine, but an enormous pain in the arse.

But we love him immoderately.


One Response to “Aussie rules?”

  1. Sal said

    This is the most ludicrous proposal – hilarious is an under statement. The unbelievable thing is that Julie Bishop is actually serious !!!
    Everyday I shudder even more at the increasing embarrassment that Australia is to the rest of the world because of the clowns that are running the show now. Don’t even start me on ‘Joke’ Hockey.
    Sounds like Harley is a bit of a naughty chap, even of he is cute.

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