Cabinet decision soon on whether refugees can work here

Human resources minister M Kula Segaran says he will take up the matter.

KUALA LUMPUR: Government officials are having discussions about refugees being allowed to take up jobs while living in Malaysia, the human resources minister, M Kula Segaran, told the Dewan Rakyat.

He said a Cabinet decision would be made early next month. “I believe a decision will be made on Dec 10 or Dec 15 I think, after a discussion with a committee.”

Kula Segaran said he had met the owners of several major agriculture companies to obtain their views, while discussions are also being held with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Answering a question from Ahmad Tarmizi Sulaiman (PAS-Sik) in the Dewan Rakyat, Kula said refugee matters came under the home ministry. He said there were currently no policies in place that will help refugees in Malaysia get jobs.

“I have discussed with other ministers and I understand that there’s a big possibility that soon some leeway will be made.

“However, there is no guarantee on changing this policy because a final opinion has not been made by the Cabinet,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat here tonight.

In a pilot programme by the previous government, several hundred refugees were gathered to work in farms. The programme was a failure as 99% of the workers had fled to nearby towns, he said.

Kula Segaran said that Malaysian labour laws did not extend to refugees.

He agreed with Tarmizi that refugees should be allowed to work here, adding that the current policy was “not rational”.