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Parliament: Malaysia ‘most humane’ to refugees, says Shahidan

Ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar living in Malaysia hold placards calling for a stop to killings in June 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

By Rahmah Ghazali
April 8, 2014

Kuala Lumpur: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim maintained that the Government was “most humane” to Rohingya refugees although it has not signed the United Nation convention.

In response to a supplementary question in Parliament by Nasrudin Hassan (PAS-Temerloh), the minister said the Government would not forcibly send the refugees, who own proper legal documentation to go back to their countries.

There are 132,187 refugees with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cardholders in the country.

“We will not send them back unless they are willing to do so. It is not our policy to send them back where their lives would be in danger,” he said on Tuesday.

He added that the Government had also borne the cost of sending back the refugees who had no proper legal documentation in the past.

“Whereas, the cost should be split in half but in the end it was Malaysia who paid everything. That is humanity,” he said.

He added the refugees were given proper access to education, food and accommodation through the help from non-governmental organisations.

Although the government was concerned with the plight of Rohingya refugees, he said it could not grant each individual with special passes to allow their stay in the country.

“There are about one million Rohingya people there, if we do that, all of them would want to come here.

“That is why we are holding to international principles that only those with UNCHR cards are allowed to stay,” he said.

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