KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said today Malaysia has to achieve the right balance between helping refugees and protecting the sovereignty and security of the country.

She said Malaysia was trying to find a long-term solution to the problem of refugees instead of just applying ad hoc solutions.

“We want to raise the dignity of humankind, especially the most vulnerable. That is what we find lacking but, at the same time, there is an influx of illegal immigrants to this country and we do not know if we can sustain this influx.

“These also involve security and infrastructure issues,” she said in a statement.

Dr Wan Azizah, who received a courtesy call from a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Wednesday, said Malaysia had launched a pilot project that was implemented last year whereby 300 Rohingya whose refugee status was validated by the UNHCR were offered jobs in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

“But the take-up rate by the Rohingya community was lacking; there is a mismatch between what we offer and what they want. We do want to help on a humanitarian basis since the Rohingyas have been thrown out of their native country. However, we do not want it to spill over and become a problem later on,” she said.

The deputy prime minister also requested that UNHCR provide Malaysia with a database of people who come through its borders.

“We would like to help as a responsible government. We have to address the root causes instead of the problem being exported to neighbouring countries,” she said.

On another matter, Dr Wan Azizah said the Cabinet had decided to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Wang Kelian mass graves incident in Perlis and would take action based on the findings.

She also said that the government also provided a 50 per cent discount on medical treatment for the Rohingyas, and the government issues a special pass, IMM13, which allows migrants to study, work and carry out temporary economic activities while residing in this country.

Meanwhile, UNHCR Bureau for Asia and the Pacific director Indrika Ratwatte said in the same statement that UNHCR had no problem sharing biometric data with Malaysia so long as there is some kind of formal agreement on that. —

Source: NAM News Network

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