Allow refugees to work, give access to basic healthcare, education: Charles

15 Feb 2019 / 14:01 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has been urged to allow those seeking refuge in Malaysia to take up jobs in the country, as well as being given access to basic education and healthcare.

Klang MP Charles Santiago (pix) said by hiring refugees, the government could afford to cut down on the number of migrant workers being employed in certain industries, adding that this would be a win-win situation for both the country and the refugees.

“We need to change our labour management policy to reduce the number of migrant workers here, and this can then be filled by refugees who are in Malaysia.

“The Human Resources Ministry should think of hiring them. I think this is where the government needs to rethink the way we shape policies around refugees and make good use of their skills. Its a win for both sides.

“I have raised this matter up many times before (when Barisan Nasional was in power). Now there’s a new minister. I will speak to him on this,” he told a press conference after attending the 71st Chin National Day programme attended by Chin refugees in Malaysia, here, today.

Charles said refugees should also be allowed to seek medical treatment in government hospitals, while children refugees be allowed to study in local schools, claiming it was the responsibility of the government to provide a safe environment for them here.

“We expect them to pay a huge amount to receive education and healthcare, but it’s not fair because they are already poor. We need to be more humane.

“We think they are coming here to take away our jobs and education. But if you ask them, they will tell you they want to go back home if possible. So while they are here, we must provide a safe environment for them,” he said.

Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah, meanwhile, urged the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to review its decision to end refugee status for the Chin community from Myanmar.

UNHCR had, in June last year, said the Chins, who are the second largest refugee group in Malaysia, did not need their protection any more as the situation in Chin State was now stable and secure, and that they were required to return home by 2020.

“I feel there needs to be a serious reconsideration. We can’t be sending them back when we know it is still unsafe,” she said in reference to reports that those who returned home were being detained or murdered.

Yesterday, Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah had said that the government would reconsider its current policy of returning ethnic Chin refugees to Myanmar.

There are currently about 35,000 Chin people seeking refuge in the country.

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