Myanmar to bring jailed migrants home

The plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya has attracted attention to the wider issues faces by the nation’s migrants. Source: Flickr
Nay Pyi Taw has announced that it will begin repatriating around 2,000 Burmese citizens who have been detained for months in Malaysia, the Myanmar Times has reported.
The process could take up to a month with at least 10 chartered flights, each carrying 130 migrants, as the demographic balance in “ageing” Malaysia is also under the spotlight.
“We have plans go through this repatriation process more than 10 times, chartering flights with more than 130 on board each time,” Myanmar’s labour and immigration ministry permanent secretary Myo Aung said.
The migrants have been detained in Malaysia on charges that include overstaying work visas.
Myanmar’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur has come under fire for taking too long, hampered by the country’s notoriously antiquated bureaucracy, to approve visa extensions for the migrants, which led to their arrests. They were then unable to return even after their identity had been confirmed.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s new government is trying to encourage the nation’s extensive diaspora to return with its many skills to help bolster the fast-growing economy and underline an end to repression.
The repatriation process is being partly funded by private donors like MAI Airlines and KBZ Brighter Future Myanmar Foundation.
In recent years, tens of thousands of Myanmar nationals were left stranded in the Indian Ocean by traffickers. More than 1,000 landed on the resort island of Langkawi in northwest Malaysia.
A human trafficking probe uncovered 139 mass graves near the Thai border, where mostly Muslim Rohingyas were believed to have been held.
The demographic balance of Malaysia itself is under the spotlight as it due to enter ageing nation status in 2030 as it looks to tackle complex issues such as social protection. The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) chairman Tan Sri Samsuddin Osman told the International Social Security Conference 2016 that living a longer life was a pendulum that swung both ways.
“The good news for most Malaysians is that our average life span has increased from 50 years of age in the 1950s to the present age of 75,” Samsuddin said.
“Therefore the issue that we need to address is not the increasing number of years, but the quality of our life as we grow older.”
He said a UN report estimated that by 2030, Malaysia would be an aged country where the proportion aged 60 and above made up 14 per cent of the population, with 5.2 million people.
By 2045 it would become a super-aged nation with 21 per cent of the population above 60 years old, Samsuddin added.
“By 2030, we will be hit with the issues of depopulation as what is being faced by Japan now. In terms of public policy and national infrastructure development, 14 years is a very narrow window of opportunity to tackle complex issues such as social protection,” said Samsuddin.