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Suu Kyi Must Address Refugee Issue, Says Syed Hamid

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KUALA LUMPUR: Myanmar, through Aung San Suu Kyi, cannot avoid the subject of refugees and Rohingya, said Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Special Envoy for Myanmar said Myanmar could not call the issue a domestic one as there was a “spillover” to the region.

“It will be in front of her because she is holding the Minister of Foreign Affairs position. She has to answer. She cannot say that she has more important issues,” he said at a press conference during the opening ceremony of a UNHCR’s expert round table discussion yesterday.

Syed Hamid was asked whether Malaysia should take a stand against Myanmar on the refugee issue.

He said, however, that they could not simply tell Myanmar off, but would have to do it through engagement.

“We are not telling them how to do (it), but they need to address the issue.

“I think they cannot say it is a domestic issue anymore. If there is a problem in any Asean country, the spillover will be to Malaysia,” he said.

Syed Hamid said Asean should be more flexible in interpreting non-interference and sovereignty issues.

There are almost 140,000 registered Myanmar refugees in Malaysia at present.

UNHCR Malaysia representative Richard Towle said there were no humanitarian solutions to end the refugee crisis, but rather political ones.

“We have learnt that no state is an island and every country can only solve the issues through cooperation,” he said, adding that countries of origin, transit and destination need to work together with UNHCR and the international community.

On a related issue, Towle said UNHCR would be launching a new refugee identity card with enhanced security features.

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