PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has called on Vietnam to play a bigger role in addressing the Rohingya refugee crisis.
Muhyiddin received a phone call from his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc today, during which the leaders discussed areas in which the two countries could work together to address the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 outbreak.
“I ended the conversation by suggesting that Vietnam, as this year’s Asean chair, can play a bigger role in helping Myanmar to address the Rohingya refugee issue that is also affecting Malaysia,” said Muhyiddin in his Facebook page.
Malaysia has long been a favoured destination for ethnic Rohingya fleeing persecution in Myanmar, where a 2017 army-led crackdown has sent more than a million fleeing to refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Malaysia last week said it would send the latest batch of Rohingya refugees back to sea after repairing the boat they arrived in from Bangladesh earlier this month.
Covid-19 fears prevented Malaysia from accepting another boat of Rohingya refugees in April, whose potential arrival contributed to an increase in xenophobia and hate speech against them on social media.
Expressing Malaysia’s full support for Vietnam as Asean chairman, Muhyiddin said he was confident Phuc could play a proactive role in leading the 10-member bloc’s response to Covid-19.
Muhyiddin said he also talked to Phuc about the steps the two countries had taken in successfully controlling the spread of Covid-19, adding that Malaysia and Vietnam needed to improve cooperation in the health sector, especially in the production of vaccines and medicines for Covid-19.
“In addition to strengthening bilateral relations, we are also committed to expanding areas of cooperation including economics, trade, agriculture and education for mutual benefit,” he said.
He also said he appreciated the support that Vietnam provided in repatriating 526 Malaysians in Vietnam since March 26, adding that Malaysia also helped send 276 Vietnamese back home on May 10.
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