Malaysians claim to be refugees to stay in Australia, says deputy minister

Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya says Australia’s five-year protection visa costs less than RM100.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians in Australia are claiming to be refugees to gain protection visas which will enable them to stay longer in the country.

Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya told the Dewan Rakyat today it was difficult to prevent Malaysians from doing so as many would go on the pretext of being tourists.

He said the situation was similar to Bangladesh nationals coming here and disposing their passports and claiming to be refugees.

Marzuki was responding to a question from Ronald Kiandee (PH-Beluran), who asked the ministry to state why there was a big number of refugee status applications by Malaysians in Australia.

“Between July 2018 and April this year, Australia’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal received 4,973 applications from Malaysians.

“They cited various reasons in their applications, including family stress, racial and religious discrimination and domestic abuse,” he said, adding that Australia had a more open attitude in granting protection visas in line with the country’s Immigration Act 1958.

Marzuki also said Malaysians were drawn to Australia due to higher wages and the low cost of applying for a five-year protection visa, which is less than RM100.

“The world-class education system also attracts our citizens to migrate there and stay longer,” he said.

Another factor, he said, was the light punishment imposed by Australia on those who did not have visas, including being sent back to their home country on an all expense-paid flight.

Malaysians not oppressed

Marzuki also denied the claim that Malaysians were oppressed, saying the country had never oppressed its citizens based on their race, religion or political beliefs.

“In fact, the protection of human rights is dominated by the federal constitution.

“The action of Malaysians in applying for protection visas on the pretext that their lives are in danger if they continue to stay in Malaysia is seen as an excuse to stay longer in the country.”

He said the foreign ministry and the Immigration Department would work with the Australian government to monitor visa applications from Malaysians, including vetting the reasons for the applications.

Putrajaya had no right to take action against NGOs in Australia who were defaming the country, though the home ministry might be able to act against individual Malaysians, Marzuki added.