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New Zealand lauds move by Malaysia to train the Rohingya

Hope for the young: Woodhouse meeting Rohingya pupils as he tours the UNHCR-Tzu Chi Education Centre in Selayang.

By Joash Ee De Silva
January 27, 2017

SELAYANG: New Zealand has applauded Malaysia’s commitment to provide semi-skilled training for the Rohingya besides looking at allowing them to work here legally.

It’s Immigration Minister Michael Wood­­house said he discussed a plan to normalise working rights for the community with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and hoped there would be a positive outcome.

“I am very interested and applaud the Ma­­laysian Government and hope it is successful,” he said.

Woodhouse said he understood the concerns of some who feared the move would see more Rohingya coming to Malaysia but did not think that was a significant risk.

On Jan 19, Malaysia announced the move to provide training in semi-skilled areas to about 56,000 Rohingya who are United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cardholders.

The move would allow them to apply for Temporary Employment Pass (PLKS) to enable them to work.

Woodhouse met several Rohingya who are waiting to be resettled in New Zealand at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)-Tzu Chi Educa­tion Centre here.

Woodhouse also visited the classes at the refugee education centre.

New Zealand now has a refugee quota of 750 per year but will take in 1,000 from 2018.

He added that 15% of the quota had been for refugees from Malaysia and a significant proportion of that were Rohingya.

“The Rohingya are a small but growing cohort in our community and they have settled very well and I expect that to continue,” he said. 

When asked about US President Donald Trump’s move to block the intake of refugees, Woodhouse said there was already “overwhelming” pressure on the situation. 

“Not for me to comment on another country’s decision, but I think the restlessness with the movement of people highlights the importance of screening well and supporting refugees when they come. It is the best way to manage the risk that refugees may pose,” he said.

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