PETALING JAYA: Foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah has been urged to explain to Parliament the National Security Council’s (MKN) proposal to shut down the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Malaysia.
Bukit Bendera MP Wong Hon Wai said the proposal by MKN director-general Rodzi Md Saad would have major implications on Malaysia’s reputation in the eyes of the world, calling for the matter to be debated in Parliament.
Wong also reminded Putrajaya that Malaysia was a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2022 -2024 term and had the moral obligation to uphold human rights in the country and region.
“Malaysia cannot unilaterally shut down a UN agency office without holding negotiations, all the more when the number of refugees remains high.
“If the number of refugees in the country has reached a minimum, then that might be a justification for the UNHCR to operate from its regional office in Bangkok, Thailand,” he said in a statement.
He said having a UNHCR office in the country could help with the coordination of humanitarian aid abroad for other countries with refugees.
Yesterday, Rodzi said shutting down the UNHCR office in Malaysia would allow Putrajaya to manage refugees in the country better without “foreign interference”.
He claimed that undocumented migrants were “attracted” to Malaysia as they could receive protection from the UN agency.
The MKN director-general also accused UNHCR of issuing refugee cards without checking with the authorities in advance, saying this was disrespectful to Malaysia.
Separately, Penang deputy chief minister P Ramasamy questioned how Malaysia could manage refugees on its own when it did not even recognise their status as refugees or asylum-seekers.
Accusing Rodzi of having “no clue of what he’s talking about”, Ramasamy jibed that the MKN director-general should suggest for Malaysia to no longer be a part of the UN.
“The UNHCR office in Malaysia might not get the full support of the government. Nonetheless, it is doing an excellent service despite difficulties to register, provide temporary cards for the movement of refugees, and settling them in countries of their choice.
“Rodzi is an utter disgrace to his profession. Such hostility towards a humanitarian agency like the UNHCR is uncalled for. It is better that he resigns from his position,” he said.