A letter to the Prime Minister of Australia from a Bhutanese
Dear ScoMo (Hon’ble Prime Minister of Australia)
First of all let me share a brief history of how my country Bhutan handled the first case of COVID-19 positive case. He was an American tourist when he first visited the Jigme Dorji National Referral Hospital In Thimphu Bhutan and complained of all the symptoms that went well with COVID-19. He got tested for COVID-19 and was so found positive. What do you think would have happened next? Did Bhutan criminalise him and discriminate him from our society just like Australia did?
No!!! In fact, His Majesty The King of Bhutan came personally to see to it that our American Guest in Bhutan got all the possible care, help, and support that he was entitled for as a human being no matter whether he was an American tourist or a local Bhutanese wandering in the capital town.
I live in Perth, Western Australia but I always keep in touch with local news back home. The day I Iearnt that Bhutan had one positive case of COVID-19, it was also the day I learned that His Majesty was right there ensuring that that our American Guest was given all the love and care that he deserved as a human being. It was with so much of unconditional love and care that Bhutan could send him off so well to his home in America minus the COVID -19.
In Bhutan we take care of our guests more than inside people. Our Kings from the last 113 years have taught the Bhutanese to be selfless and that’s is how the philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH) was born with the reign of His Majesty The Fourth King of Bhutan King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. He is known as the Bodhisattva King of Bhutan. The King who took care of the American Guest is known as People’s King in Bhutan and he is none other than King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk. At a time like this Bhutanese should be actually celebrating a national occasion on behalf of the birth of our second Royal Child but Bhutan didn’t do so because the King was busy looking after the strategic plans for preventing the spread of COVID -19 amongst his people. Bhutan lost one of the joyous celebrations in the history of Bhutan yet we would be celebrating one of the best examples of selflessness and the quality of selfless leadership.
Dear ScoMo, when you announced very vehemently on 4th April 2020 that International Students should go back home, I heard many people say that it was not surprising of ScoMo for reasons I really don’t know but well I was so hurt and surprised that a prime minister of a country would give such a blatant statement in a press conference.
I am an international student here in Perth. Having done my Masters in Community Development for the last two years at Murdoch University, I have contributed near to AUD 60,000 as tuition fees and almost AUD 16000 as tax as a family. I have my children whose fees I have equally paid in double the amount as mine depending upon their courses. Mr. ScoMo, while you said that International students should have come prepared you should also realise that while they came prepared and paid their fees and taxes on time, they also had to depend on some causal and part-time jobs to sustain themselves during their course of living here in Australia. This was the sunny part that was shown to attract every single international student. I am a very example of this prospectus. I had the option to go anywhere in the world to study but I thought Australia provided one of the best options being a Multicultural society.
Now when the international students heard your address to the nation, everyone got dumb for one moment. Then they started to think and analyze and realized that you made one of the world’s most racist speeches of the century especially amidst such a crisis when people deserved all your love and care even though you didn’t have to show it but express it.
Dear Mr. ScoMo, international students contributed AUD 32 billion in 2018 into Australia’s economy as per the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures. The then the Universities Australia Deputy Chief Executive Anne-Marie Lansdown said that international students brought vast benefits to Australians and the nation by contributing to the entire Australian economy, generating jobs, supporting wages, and lifting the living standards of Australians. A very powerful quote that Lansdown said was ‘Australians should be fiercely proud of this incredibly important industry. They should also be fiercely protective of it.’
But then where is the part about protecting international students when they need it the most? It is so disheartening to hear you say that they should make their way home when the weather was too bad while you didn’t mind them having here to make hay when the sun shone. According to the 2019 statistic, international students contributed AUD 34.9 billion a year for Australia, supporting more than 240,000 jobs across the country. The Chief of Universities then mentioned the important role that international students play in the economy of Australia.
Everyone aggress that it is so much more than contributing to the local economy by international students. They feel that international students contribute to local communities, society, global outlook, and the economy. More than anything else, Australians benefit from powerful personal, cultural, diplomatic, and trade ties. It was also heard quoting that when these international students return home they join the global network of alumni and those who stay prove to be the highly skilled graduates needed in the nations’ economy. As of recent updates, international students contribute to 130,000 skilled migrants to the workforce leading to AUD 8.7 billion GDP in Australia’s economy.
Now when the Australian economy is affected severely by the pandemic COVID-19, you are all up to protect your citizens and residents. You forgot that those international students who contributed to the larger chunk of your GDP now lost their jobs, are left homeless, and not in the position to pay their rents. Their positions in the wok place are given to their citizens and residents. And then there comes the announcement that international students should make their way home.
So Mr. ScoMo, on what humanitarian ground and the economic ground did you make your statement that international students should make their way home especially when you know that almost all the transit routes are locked down? I am just so curious to know whether you made just a casual remark or whether you really made that statement. Did you even realize the kind of panic you created amongst all the international students here in Australia and their family members back home across the world? The day was almost like a doomsday as if the entire international students got caught in the myriad of COVID-19. Personally, it didn’t affect me so much but by virtue of being a community leader, I had to bear the greatest brunt of the announcement. I have never answered so many calls in my entire 4 decades of life than I did on the doomsday of your announcement.