PETALING JAYA: About one-fourth of asylym-seekers who flew in to Australia last month were Malaysians, amid a debate over Canberra’s border control effiencies as tens of thousands of foreigners choose to remain in the country despite their asylum applications being rejected.
The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) cited figures tabled in the Australia parliament, which showed a total of 546 Malaysians among 1,931 “plane people”, or asylum seekers who arrived by air.
Chinese nationals came in second (309 asylum seekers), followed by India (255), Fiji (83) and the Philippines (61).
SMH reported that nearly 50,000 “plane people” whose asylum claims were rejected were still in Australia awaiting deportation.
The paper quoted Population Minister Alan Tudge as saying that Canberra working with other countries including Malaysia to curb unfounded claims for asylum.
“Australia has one of the most generous humanitarian programs in the world and we settle thousands of people in desperate need every year,” he said.
Malaysian citizens may visit Australia by applyng for an online visa through the Electronic Travel Authority, which allows them multiple entries for up to 12 months.
Last year, Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski revealed that around 33,000 Malaysians sought refugee status in Australia over the last few years.
Goledzinowski said Malaysians also topped overstayers at 10,500 people, more than the total number of the next three countries combined.