Malaysia to Decide on Work Permits for Refugees Soon
22 November 2010: Malaysian government will decide next month whether to allow over 90,000 refugees to work officially in the country.
Home Ministry Secretary General, Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam told a local press that the matter will soon be decided by a special Cabinet committee meeting on foreign workers.
Several non-governmental organizations and at least one political party recently proposed to the government to allow refugees in the country to work legally in sectors that required high number of foreign workers.
According to UNHCR, there are around 90,000 refugees staying in Malaysia with the majority of them coming from Burma.
Refugees are currently unofficially permitted to do only odd-jobs in the ‘informal sector’, unable to access employee protection and benefits available to all employees under Malaysian laws.
Most refugees from Burma are employed in vegetable plantations, restaurants and construction sites.
Reporting by Thomas Chong