Last weekend, a boatload of Rohingya people bound for Malaysia, where they hoped to claim political asylum, landed in Phuket instead. So close, but yet so far.
Their boat broke down on their 45th day at sea, since setting sail from the Arakan (Rakhine) state of Burma. Denied citizenship in their ‘homeland’, and refused entry to neighbouring Bangladesh, the Rohingya people are widely perceived as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
With the central Thai government lacking any specific policy or plan to deal with the people – as we reported this week – their time in Phuket is likely to be fleeting.
Whether they will be, as has happened in the past, ‘helped on their way’ by the Thai Navy or sent back to Burma remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, for them their journey is far from over.
Meanwhile, a plucky group of four Russians also arrived on the island this week on a rickety marine vessel.
Their journey however was not to escape religious persecution, nor was it a matter of life or death. Over the course of their exceptionally long, five year journey, no passenger had died or had to be thrown overboard.
Admittedly facing their own kind of hardships, albeit by choice, the Russian men had decided to embark on this peculiar journey as a feat of endurance and for an adventure.
What the Rohingya people currently in detention centres around Phuket and Thailand would think about such a juxtaposition of societal fortunes is baffling.
This dual treatment of earth’s citizens is, surely by anybody’s reasoning, hard to accept as right.
The ‘human race’ feels more than aptly named at times. Is life ever not a competition? When are humans going to stop trying to beat, to dominate and to win againt others?
Aren’t we, as earth citizens, too old for this now?
This is a world where people of wealth indulge in extreme sports and simulations of war in order to access pools of adrenaline and feelings otherwise inaccessible via their sedentary lives.
This is also a world where people with nothing risk all to find a place where they will be allowed to live in peace, and be given fundamental human rights.
It's a world where the two co-exist and live on the same piece of earth, often unaware of the other.
It’s a funny old world.