Malaysian govt to work with UNHCR to issue refugee cards
PUTRAJAYA, 20 August 2016 – Malaysian government want to set up a special task force with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to look into and settle complicated migrant issues, including those related to the issuance of refugee cards.
Kuala Lumpur also said the renewal of expired refugee cards would take longer time as the authorities would apply stricter procedures to solve the problem of fake cards.
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said his government would work closely with the UNHCR to register refugees and provide them with the identity card.
He, however, stressed that identification and registration of refugees were the responsibility of the UNHCR as stated in the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.
According to a statement by Zahid, who is also home minister, the working relations of Malaysian government with the UNHCR dated back to 1975 when the country received a large number of refugees due to the Vietnam War.
Zahid took a softer tone, compared to Shahidan Kassim, a minister in the Prime Minister Department, who in last month said the government would screen registration of refugees in the country and bar the UNHCR from registering asylum seekers in its office at Kuala Lumpur.
According to Shahidan, only refugees detained in immigration detention centers would be allowed to apply for a refugee card and the document must only be issued with the approval of government agencies like immigration department, an agency under Malaysian Home Ministry.
Shahidan also warned that action would be taken against the UNHCR if the agency did not heed instructions on the issuance of refugee cards.
The UNHCR launched new refugee cards with upgraded security features in June to curb problems related to fake cards. – Reporting by Thomas Chong from Malaysia