Think tank: Shahidan’s suggestion discriminatory, racist


PETALING JAYA: The call by federal minister Shahidan Kassim for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cards to be issued only to Rohingya Muslim refugees goes against human rights values, says a think tank.

Speaking to FMT, Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) external relations manager Azrul Mohd Khalib said Shahidan’s statement was also discriminatory and racist.

“If we really want to help those who have fled their countries because of wars, oppression and conflicts, we have to look at the issue without a racial or religious lens.

“The country’s reputation will be better off if we hold firm to principles of rationality, human rights and close communications with other countries.”

Yesterday, Shahidan, a minister in the prime minister’s department, said the issuance of UNHCR cards to Myanmars should be reviewed to ensure it was only issued to ethnic Rohingya Muslim refugees in the country.

Shahidan said he was worried some UNHCR cardholders were also involved in committing atrocities against ethnic Rohingyas in the Rakhine region of Myanmar.

Azrul said UNHCR cards were issued based on humanitarian grounds and also on the legitimacy of the refugees’ backgrounds.

“The cards are not simply issued to anyone without background checks and interviews by UNHCR officers.”