Paul Scully

Sutton and Cheam Conservative candidate Paul Scully more determined after trip into hell 5,000 miles away

By Angus Oliver
December 8 2019, 23.20

While most General Election candidates are motivated by their constituency’s local issues, Paul Scully’s political determination is founded more than 5,000 miles away.

In 2017 he stepped into a vision of hell when greeted with blood, death, despair and the brutal reality of genocide.

Mr Scully, the Conservative candidate for Sutton and Cheam, saw Burmese villages burning on the Bangladeshi border and thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing ethnic and religious persecution.

The Conservative Party deputy chairman had arrived at Kutupalong refugee camp, now the largest in the world, just three weeks after the mass exodus of Rohingya people from Myanmar had started.

He said: “I saw people who had their legs burned off by landmines and a man with his head smashed in by a machete being carried past me.

“The possibility of people contracting diseases was terrifyingly high. It was really horrible to see.”

Mr Scully, 51, is half-Burmese through his father who was born in Myanmar, and is the trade envoy for Burma, Brunei and Thailand.

He was the first MP to go to the Rohingya refugee camps and, having witnessed the gruesome effects of ethnic cleansing, he sought to fight for Burmese, and other ethnic minorities’ democracy and development.

“I saw my job to give the people of Rohingya a voice so that we can get them rehomed and repatriated in a safe way,” Mr Scully said.

“I feel a sense of connection and rapport with the diaspora groups from that part of Asia.

“We have a few thousand Tamils in south west London and I have connected with the community who have made Sutton their home.

“We also have a big Ahmadiyya Muslim community based around the mosque in Morden of people who were persecuted in Pakistan and have moved to the UK, their spiritual home, and there is a growing Indian community as well.

“What those community groups have in common is the desire to have great educations and work really hard.

“Bringing those two things together with a solid family network gives them the best chance of prosperity.

“We are aligned in terms of what they want and what the Conservative Party offers.

“We want to be able to bring people together rather than treat them as a number of separate communities.”

The completion of Brexit would mean tighter immigration controls in the United Kingdom which would restrict the movement of ethnic minority populations.

But despite being a strong Brexiteer, Mr Scully believes the Conservatives’ proposed points-based immigration system will represent a fairer arrangement than before.

He said: “Immigration is a key concern to people but always what I have tried to do is concentrate not on division but on what binds us.

“First of all it is about making people who are already here feel welcome.

“Then it is about having a level playing field no matter where one comes from in the world.

“I don’t care if someone comes from Greece or Bangladesh, Spain or Australia, if they have the skills we want, they should be allowed to come, contribute and enjoy what we have to offer in London and in Sutton.”

In September 2019, Kutupalong became the largest refugee camp in the world with a combined population of 613,272 people.

The Gambia has since formally accused Myanmar of genocide against Rohingya Muslims by filing a lawsuit to the United Nation’s top court, but Myanmar’s government denies the claims.

Mr Scully said: “The military are trying to push out the Rohingya. They have killed, named and pushed people out.

“We can point towards ethnic cleansing.

“They cannot act with impunity, they cannot act thinking they can get away with it, thinking the international community will let them get away with it.”

Read more about what’s important to south west London constituencies in our 24-page General Election preview special.

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