KUALA LUMPUR – The Dewan Rakyat was told today that the government has no plans to set up a refugee registration centre as it fears the move would encourage more refugees and asylum seekers to enter the country.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim said the government had in fact requested the UNHCR to expedite the rapatriation process of refugees here to their respective or third country.
“The government has also urged parties to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees to take in the refugees in line with their commitment as member States,” he said.
He was responding to Datuk Liang Teck Meng (BN-Simpang Renggam) who wanted to know about the steps taken by the government in resolving the refugee problem in the country and follow-ups to ease the UNHCR’s burden in the issue.
Liang had also asked whether the government planned to set up its own refugee registration centre without having to depend on international agencies.
Shahidan said Malaysia could no longer afford to accept refugees and asylum seekers who had contributed to social problems and threatened public order and national security.
To Liang’s suggestion that fake UNHCR cards were easily obtainable as exposed by a newspaper recently, Shahidan who is also Arau member of Parliament admitted there could possibly be a syndicate responsible in issuing and selling them on the black market.
He could not be sure of the rampancy and said he was leaving it to the police to investigate.
To a question from Tan Kok Wai (DAP-Cheras), he said the number of refugees and asylum seekers in the country that had registered with the UNHCR office as at Feb 29, was 158,516.
He said 144,388 or the majority comprised Myanmar nationals while the rest were from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Syria and Yaman.
He said Malaysia being a non member of the refugee convention and protocol has no obligation to provide asylum to illegal immigrants, while it is the prerogative of the UNHCR to accord refugee status to any illegal immigrant. – BERNAMA