Refugees To Face More Raids In Malaysia
09 June 2010: Refugees in Malaysia are expected to experience more assaults and raids from the local authorities on the government’s drive to reduce foreign workers in the country from 2.1 million to 1.8 million.
Malaysian government is scheduled to offer amnesty for illegal foreign workers before running a major raid against illegal foreign workers in every corner of the country.
Refugee, totalling up to 90,000 in Malaysia, is expected to become the victim of such raid, for Malaysian laws do not differentiate between economic migrants and refugees.
Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin recently announce that, a major raid planned early this year is being postponed and the government will offer amnesty to all illegal foreign workers with the chance to return home without facing action.
He said the integrated biometric identification system would have to be in place before the amnesty programme could be implemented.
He said foreigners who entered the country illegally or overstayed after their work permits expired would be offered amnesty once the Home Ministry updated the system.
“The biometric identification system is necessary to ensure that we record the entry of all visitors and workers into the country. It will include work to update and coordinate all hardware, software and data managed by different agencies and ministries.”
“We will leave it to the Home Ministry, namely the Immigration Department, to implement it as soon as possible,” Muhyiddin told a news conference after chairing the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Illegal Workers.
Muhyiddin said the Government would also be looking into existing legislation and the possibility of introducing new regulations to curb the problem of illegal foreign workers, as it was important to ensure full enforcement once the amnesty period is expired.
“After the amnesty offer expires, we will act against all those who harbour foreign workers without permits,” he said.
According to data from UNHCR, they are 87,700 refugees and asylum seekers registered with the organization, of which 81,200 are from Myanmar, comprising some 39,100 Chins, 18,800 Rohingyas, 5,900 Myanmar Muslims, 3,800 Mons, 3,600 Kachins and the remaining are other ethnic minorities from Myanmar.
Malaysia locals include the authorities however fail to distinguish between Burma refugees and Burma foreign workers, making both of them being arrested during the raids.
Reporting by Thomas Chong