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The Forum > Article Comments > An open letter from a reluctant refugee > Comments

An open letter from a reluctant refugee : Comments

By Thu-Trang Tran, published 29/7/2014

I am a refugee. I don't speak of it freely.The word has not sat well with me, except when I was a young girl in Vietnam.

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Thank you for your story and your insights.

If you look at history, similar difficulties in being accepted can be faced by any group, regardless of ethnicity.
Posted by Wolly B, Tuesday, 29 July 2014 8:32:35 AM
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Tran,

<<In Vietnam, our family were 'nguoi vuot bien', literally, person exceeding boundary>>

We have 'nguoi vuot bien' in Oz too. They are usually outed under Section 18 of the Racial Discrimination Act (or its allied codes ). You might have observed a girl younger than you who was made a 'nguoi vuot bien' because she used ape in reference to a football player!
Posted by SPQR, Tuesday, 29 July 2014 9:19:47 AM
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Thank you for writing.
Since the opportunistic abandonment of bipartisanship policy on boat people in 2001 we have embarked on a political brinkmanship of clamouring over whose Party is better at cruelling the boat people off our shores.
As a consequence the boat people have been demonised, demonised,and demonised to convince the voters that our gladiatorial leaders are doing the noble thing on our behalf.
Of late both sides have resorted to the convenient prop of "saving people from drowning at sea"! (by keeping those who do make it to land in hell holes bought in third world countries.) Such hypocrisy.
I await the rise of a movement to force our political bull elephants to get rid of the bile in their fermenting bellies, and start to see boat people as people and not convenient scapegoats for the altar of winning elections. We did enough of that in the 19th century with the feckless Chinese who came here for gold but got marooned, too poor and too much loss of face to return to their ancestral hearth.
Posted by Chek, Tuesday, 29 July 2014 9:41:15 AM
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Be thankful you were labelled "refugee".

You could have been labelled "criminal".
As the Vietnamese government apparently understands, it is *illegal* to either leave or enter a country without appropriate authorisation.

"We had to".

Why didn't they "have to" stay and sabotage the new regime?

Your family could have been labelled "resistance members", "freedom fighters", "guerrilla warriors" or "folk heroes".

Instead of "cowards".
The same goes for every "boat person" today.
Posted by Shockadelic, Tuesday, 29 July 2014 11:22:18 AM
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Thanks to the author for proving that a "refugee" who is actually a senior strategy manager in the Victorian Government, completing her PhD, can write in English, now a first language.

Very poetic.
Posted by plantagenet, Tuesday, 29 July 2014 1:02:20 PM
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Thu-Trang Tran is a refugee. So am I. Why has she written this piece? Apparently because she thinks our government is Ďruthlessí. Letís have a look at what Australiaís refugee policy actually is. Then we might get a clue as to whether it is in itself ruthless, or is just being implemented ruthlessly.

The immigration website says: ďAustralia's Humanitarian Programme is an important part of our contribution to the international protection of refugees. It is designed to ensure that Australia can respond effectively to global humanitarian situations and that support services are available to meet the specific needs of these entrants.Ē Hardly ruthless but otherwise not a great deal of help in judging how we are going. Most notable is the total absence of a guiding purpose for the humanitarian programme. That would be a good starting point.

Let me propose such a guiding purpose: "Australiaís humanitarian refugee program should offer refuge to those in greatest need." Surely thatís not ruthless but it definitely is a lofty ideal, difficult to put to practice. Could it be implemented without tough, even ruthless, rules, assessments and responses? I donít think so, and thatís the root of Australiaís political problem.

Thu-Trang Tranís story is moving. There are millions of humans with equally or more touching stories. We cannot help them all. There has to be a way, imperfect as it may be, of selecting those whom we do help. It will inevitably be tough on some. Could it work if there was a large influx of boat arrivals? Again, I donít think so. Thatís why we face a paradox; a truly humanitarian refugee policy must first stop the boats.

On a personal matter, would my family have been offered refuge in Australia under todayís Ďruthlessí policies? Probably. They faced a 98% chance of dying if they stayed. I reckon that qualifies
Posted by Tombee, Tuesday, 29 July 2014 1:06:50 PM
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