Refugees’ right to work in Malaysia…to be discussed in special Cabinet meeting on foreign labour next month

Source from Malaymail, Thursday, November 18th, 2010 12:44:00

PETALING JAYA: The government will decide next month whether refugees will be allowed to work in the country.

Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam told The Malay Mail yesterday that a special Cabinet meeting to discuss issues on foreign workers would be held in mid-December and chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“It was scheduled for last week but had to be postponed as Muhyiddin was away on a working visit to Japan,” he said.

“So, we’ll only know what the Cabinet decides on refugees next month.”

Earlier this year, the Home Ministry had set up a laboratory, comprising representatives from various ministries and agencies, to study foreign workers issues.

“The laboratory came up with about 55 proposals, including the refugee matter, which will all be forwarded to the special Cabinet meeting,” said Mahmood.

“These are merely initiatives and proposals, and whether each will be approved or not is the prerogative of the Cabinet."

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Malaysia has 90,000 registered refugees as of September.

Refugees are currently permitted to do only odd-jobs in this country.

Malaysia does not have special laws for refugees and they are considered illegal immigrants. Issues involving them come under the Immigration Act.

Mahmood said the Home Ministry was mulling suggestions by various quarters, particularly the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), that refugees be allowed to work here while waiting to be resettled to third countries.

The MTUC had hoped they would be permitted to work in labour-strapped sectors to help overcome labour shortages and reduce the need to bring in foreign workers, and believed their proposal would enhance Malaysia’s image as a humane nation.

READ: Over 90,000 refugees in Malaysia

Over 90,000 refugees in Malaysia


Thursday, November 11th, 2010 15:20:00

KUALA LUMPUR: There were 90,301 refugees in Malaysia registered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) up to September this year.

Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk A. Kohilan Pillay said Malaysia cooperated with the UNCHR and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in repatriating refugees to their countries of origin or relocating them to a third country willing to accept them.

"Until now, 49,082 refugees have been sent to third countries, 68 per cent of them through the UNHCR and 32 per cent through IOM," he said in his reply to a question from Hamim Samuri (BN-Ledang) in the Dewan Rakyat, here, today.

Kohilan said issues related to refugees had not been raised by the source countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand during their bilateral talks with Malaysia.

"However, their embassies here would always assist in the documentation process for refugees to be relocated to third countries," he said.

To a supplementary question from M. Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) on claims that the Malaysian government allowed the exploitatiion of refugees, Kohilan said the UNHCR and IOM were responsible for looking after the registered refugees.

However, he said, Malaysia also assisted in terms of medical aid and educational programmes for them.

He said as there were no special laws for refugees in this country, issues involving them came under the Immigration Act 1959/63 and that refugees were considered as illegal immigrants.

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