Photograph of a wooden refugee boat anchored in the harbour at Kuantan, East Malaysia in December, 1978. A smaller vessel has pulled alongside, possibly to assist with evacuation/disembarkation. The photograph is one of a series taken by PT Penkonindo employee Tim Baker. Another boat, PK 1867, arrived with refugees from Vietnam around the time this photograph was taken. They are believed to be the first refugees to arrive there from Vietnam.

Description of Content

A wooden boat anchored in the harbour with people standing on its deck and clothes hanging out to dry. A small navy blue hulled motor launch is anchored at the stern of the refugee boat. In the background can be seen the stern of a dredge ship and in the distance the low harbour edge and a crane.

Physical Description

Colour photograph printed on paper.


Statement of Historical Significance:
This collection enhances a significant collection of holdings by the Museum relating to refugee camp life and management. The Museum now holds photographs documenting refugee camp experiences from post-World War II Germany to Indonesia and Malaysia after the Vietnam War. This particular collection also demonstrates the early lack of infrastructure to manage refugee boat arrivals, in this case requiring harbour engineering workers to assist.

These photographs show a boatload of Vietnamese people who came as refugees by sea on what is believed to have been one of the first small boats to arrive on the Malaysian coast after the end of the Vietnam War with the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese on 30 April 1975. An estimated 800,000 Viernamese refugees left by boat between 1975 and 1995. Exodus by small boats to neighbouring South-East Asian countries began in about September 1978 and increased until in June 1979 neighbouring countries declared they would not take any more. A United Nations Conference in July 1979 brokered an Orderly Departure Program which increased the intake to Australia and other countries and decreased the exodus by boat.

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