Friday, February 18, 2011

The Happiest Refugee

The Happiest Refugee, Anh Do

This was a good, easy read. It is a memoir of Anh Do, one of Australia's premier comedians, and his life to this point. In some ways, I am hesitant of people my own age (rather young if I do say so!) writing a memoir. However, I remove my hesitation over this one – it’s a good book – entertaining, interesting and a great insight into the life of Vietnamese migrants to Australia in the 70s and 80s.

In some ways it's a classic 'rags to riches' tales - a family leave war-torn Vietnam on a leaky boat to seek a better life, they nearly do not make it - facing starvation, dehydration and pirates. They end up in Sydney, always living near poverty, but still always thankful for their adopted homeland and the opportunities it gives them.

One wonders on reading it though – what the current immigration policy would do with such people today? Make them live at Christmas Island for months while processing their right to immigrate? Put them in detention for years to ensure they should actually be here? Makes you wonder what other people, who would be honest, hard-working, citizens, we are missing out on having here in Australia.


Deb L said...

I really enjoyed reading this book too. At some points I was laughing and crying within moments of each other.

I don't think Anh Do's family would be put into detention or sent to Christmas Island today. I don't remember them travelling directly to Australia as "illegal" immigrants. From my memory of the book, they escaped from Vietnam to another country where they lived as refugees until their application was accepted by the Australian government and then they arrived in Australia. But I am happy to be corrected if I've got that bit muddled up.

Wendy said...

You are completely right, Deb, they ended up in Malaysia in a refugee camp, and decided to go to whichever country would take them first, which turned out to be Australia.

I guess I was making a more general comment about people leaving Asia by boat and trying to make their way somewhere else. If such a boat managed to make it to Australian waters today, I suspect they would end up in detention. It just makes me ponder our compasssion as a nation at times.