In midst of xenophobic attacks, Zahid recalls BN’s aid for Rohingya

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi says in addition to helping Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the BN government allowed them to work in selected sectors in Malaysia.

PETALING JAYA: Following a spate of xenophobic comments about Rohingya refugees, former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has recounted the Barisan Nasional administration’s efforts for the refugee community.

Among the actions taken was the provision of RM4 million in food supplies and equipment to the Rohingya refugees at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border as well as construction of a RM3.5 million hospital at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, the world’s biggest refugee centre.

Zahid, who was home minister then, said the government at the time had allowed the Rohingya community in Malaysia to seek work in selected sectors so they could fend for themselves even though UNHCR refugees are usually barred from employment or to engage in business.

He said the government’s initiative had helped to curb human trafficking more effectively.

He said Malaysia had joined forces with the Qatar Development Fund in three projects to provide skills training in agriculture and manufacturing, education for Rohingya children, and a medical insurance scheme.

He said the BN government had taken action based on humanitarian concerns. “Rohingya refugees must be protected from ethnic genocide by the Myanmar regime,” he said in a Facebook posting.

Other communities in limbo would also be given humanitarian aid before being sent to a third country or returned to their country of origin.

“Yes, we have and will help them on humanitarian grounds. But that’s it. They need to respect the laws and the movement control order. The government must be stern and resolve this properly and diplomatically.”

The recent attacks on the Rohingya are believed to have stemmed from a statement attributed to Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani, who was described as the head of the so-called Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia. Zafar was alleged to have demanded citizenship for Rohingya, a claim he denied.

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