One group points to their potential to contribute to the economy.
PETALING JAYA: An activist group has called for the employment of people from the Rohingya community in sectors that Malaysians tend to shun.
Commenting on Jempol MP Salim Sharif’s complaint that Rohingya migrants were managing padi fields in Malaysia, Tenaganita executive director Glorene Das told FMT: “The reality is that factors like the pandemic have slowed the recruitment of foreign workers, and Rohingya can contribute to our country’s economy while sustaining their livelihoods.”
However, she called for the drafting of employment policies to prevent the exploitation of refugee workers, saying the rise in labour violation cases in several sectors had made this necessary.
Yesterday, during the Dewan Rakyat debate on the 2022 Supply Bill, Salim said: “These Rohingya are becoming padi towkays. In a few years, they are likely to end up controlling more padi fields.”
Speaking to FMT, activist John Quinley of Fortify Rights said the government should discourage anti-refugee and anti-migrant sentiments.
He said it should instead support collaboration between Malaysians and Rohingya in all fields.
Natural Farming Association vice-chairman Adi Setia said the government was short-sighted in ignoring refugee manpower.
“Allowing the Rohingya to work in padi fields will effectively address some of the country’s refugee-related issues,” he said.
“Of course, a legal framework must be put in place to ensure that the Rohingya are not exploited.”
According to the agriculture and food industries ministry, more than 200 Rohingya are managing padi fields across the country.
Officially, there are 103,090 Rohingya refugees in Malaysia.