PETALING JAYA: With the number of refugees in Malaysia on the rise, it is high time the government ensures their basic human rights are protected.
A member of parliament and a rights organisation said, instead of bringing in foreign workers, these refugees should be given the jobs.
Klang MP Charles Santiago said the government should help those seeking refuge here with a chance at a normal life while waiting for permanent placements.
He described the government’s current management of the refugees as “poor”, due to the fact that most of them were destitute.
Santiago said how their presence would affect the country depended greatly on the way the situation was handled.
“Now, the cost to support these refugees is borne by the government and the people. But what the government can do is to get the refugees who are already here to work in service centres or in plantations.
“All they need is some basic education and some caring from the companies or the government itself.
“It would be good for the country as doing this is cheaper than bringing in more migrant workers,” he told FMT.
Santiago urged Putrajaya and other Asean governments to intervene in the conflict in Myanmar that had seen its minority Rohingya community “butchered and brutalised”.
Malaysia has the ability to do this as it is a member of both Asean and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim, in a Dewan Rakyat written reply Thursday, stated that the number of refugees in Malaysia had been on the increase since 2010.
He said as of September this year, the total number of refugees here was 150,226. Of this number, 143,669 are from Myanmar.
Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia President Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani, in response to this, said the number would increase if Putrajaya continued its “deafening silence” over the “genocide” in Myanmar, which is also a member of Asean.
“In order to survive, the Rohingya have to flee the country. So if the Malaysian Government refuses to intervene, more will come to seek refuge here,” he said when contacted by FMT.
At the very least, Zafar said, it should look into the wellbeing of the refugees who are here.
Otherwise, they would be left with no choice but to resort to illegal employment and that could cause the government more problems, he added.
“Find a way to help them assimilate with the community. Give them the jobs that Malaysians do not want instead of bringing in more foreign workers.
“Because the refugees are not here by choice. They have nowhere else to go and they can’t stay in their own country,” he said.