Asylum-seekers 'force' Singapore ship to Australia

A boatload of asylum-seekers picked up by a Singaporean merchant vessel after a distress call were on Thursday accused of acting like pirates after forcing the captain to take them to Australia.

The Singapore-flagged MV Parsifal picked up the 67 asylum-seekers from a people-smuggling ship off the Indonesian island of Java on Monday in response to a distress call relayed by Australian authorities.

It intended to continue on to Singapore with the group but Canberra's Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said they became "very aggressive" when learning of the plan and insisted he take them to Australia's Christmas Island.

"The master of the ship made the decision to turn the vessel around and head to Christmas Island," Clare told ABC radio.

"The captain rang the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to tell them of his intentions, and he made the point that he was concerned for his crew's safety."

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the group should be investigated by Australian police for piracy, describing their behaviour as "outrageous".

"For the vessel to have been turned around allegedly under threat of violence, to go completely in the opposite direction... is an outrageous act to be committed," Morrison told reporters.

"They should be investigated for potential crimes of piracy."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard conceded that if there had been "a breach of any relevant laws then of course it has to be properly investigated", but said the "time for political argy-bargy" on the boatpeople issue had passed.

Clare said the group could be among the first sent to remote Nauru or Papua New Guinea's Manus Island under a punitive new policy to detain asylum-seekers offshore currently being debated in the upper house of parliament.

"There's no advantage in that sort of behaviour, because these people now face the prospect of going to Nauru," he said.

If passed as expected by the Senate the new measures will let Australia send asylum-seekers who arrive by boat to remote Pacific outposts for processing without a time limit on their detention.

Canberra hopes the approach will act as a deterrent to the record tide of people-smuggling boats from Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

The new laws represent a return to the harsh refugee policies of the former conservative government, which were rolled back by Gillard's centre-left Labor when it won power in 2007.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • China ignores global outcry vs reclamation
    China ignores global outcry vs reclamation

    On Wednesday, G-7 foreign ministers issued a Declaration on Maritime Security expressing alarm over “unilateral actions, such as large scale land reclamation, which change the status quo and increase tensions” in the region. In their communiqué, which did not specifically mention China, the ministers expressed belief that reclamation activities were meant to “change the status quo” in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, through which 40 percent of global trade passes. …

  • Project NOAH exec receives recognition
    Project NOAH exec receives recognition

    Project NOAH executive director and University of the Philippines professor Mahar Lagmay recently received recognition from the European Geosciences Union (EGU) for his work in disaster risk reduction and mitigation in the Philippines. …

  • Nightclub ban for US troops
    Nightclub ban for US troops

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said yesterday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipino he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will kick off tomorrow the 10-day annual military exercises, according to Capt. Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

  • US-Phl war games to start under China’s shadow
    US-Phl war games to start under China’s shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will kick off tomorrow expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening  defense alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China’s increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Palace defends legal tack in sea row
    Palace defends legal tack in sea row

    There is nothing weak about taking the legal and diplomatic approach to push for the country’s claims in the disputed West Philippine Sea, Malacañang maintained yesterday. On Friday, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares led a rally in front of the Chinese consulate in Makati City to protest China’s massive reclamation activities in the Spratly island group to fortify its presence in the disputed waters. Colmenares also criticized the Philippine government for supposedly not doing enough to defend …

  • Veloso sons urge authorities to save mother from death
    Veloso sons urge authorities to save mother from death

    The sons of Mary Jane Veloso, who is facing execution in Indonesia for drug smuggling, yesterday appealed to government officials to do everything to spare their mother from death. “We love you,” Mark Daniel, 12, said when asked for a message for his mother following a press conference at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. Mark Daniel, an incoming Grade 8 student, reiterated his appeal to those in power to help save his mother from death. His younger brother, …

  • US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow
    US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers on Monday will kick off expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening defence alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China's increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial
    Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said Saturday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipina he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will on Monday kick off 10-day annual military excercises, according to Captain Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options