KUALA LUMPUR: The government has no plans to introduce a programme for Rohingya refugees to assimilate with the locals, says an Umno minister.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim said at present the refugees were issued with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) cards.
“If we introduce an assimilation programme, it means that we have the intention to give them citizenship.
“And if we open the floodgates, I am sure others will also want to come here,” he said.
He was replying to a question by Nurul Izzah Anwar (PKR-Lembah Pantai), who asked whether the government would introduce an assimilation programme, as carried out in Germany, to help refugees understand local cultures and practices.
She said doing so would also help stem social problems among them.
Shahidan replied however that such a programme would only discourage the Rohingya refugees from going to a third country or returning to their home country.
He said the Rohingya now received a 50% discount on medical treatment when compared with others.
“They also have access to private education run by concerned NGOs or the UNHCR.”
Since March 1, the Rohingya were allowed to work in the plantation and manufacturing sectors for three years, he added.
Shahidan also revealed there were 16,809 Rohingya refugee children with UNHCR cards in the country.