Penang no to Rohingya

Penang no to Rohingya
Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, who were rescued by the Myanmar navy alongside Bangladesh refugees, are interviewed by immigration officers.

GEORGE TOWN - The Penang government wants Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants to be placed on land owned by the Federal Government.

The state faced the pressure of space, on both the island and mainland, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng told The Star when contacted yesterday.

He said that 50,000 Rohingya had arrived in Penang over the last six years and it could not allow state land to be used to house them. He added that Penang needed to be informed of any plans to place these migrants in the state.

Several NGOs and industry bodies said space and resources should be ready if Penang is to house the migrants.

Real Estate and Housing Deve-lopers Association Penang chairman Datuk Jerry Chan said Penang can be their temporary home.

"The housing needs to be sizable and have basic amenities with good sanitation, healthcare and socio-cultural elements.

"Maybe the IGP knows something we don't. Maybe he is thinking of Pulau Jerejak. We are struggling to figure out where in Penang he has in mind. Our state is too densely populated to be suitable," he said yesterday.

He was commenting on Ins-pector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar's statement that temporary housing for Rohingya and Bangladesh migrants could be built in Penang.

Penang Consumer Protection Association president K. Koris Atan said Penang had the image of being a "detention state" decades ago when Pulau Jerejak was used to keep Internal Security Act detainees.

"Why is the IGP suggesting Penang? It should be in a large state like Pahang," he said.

Penang Welfare and Caring Society Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the RMAF base in Butterworth was the only place with security to house the mi­­grants.

"We are waiting for the National Security Council to contact us so that we can work together."

Lim said on Friday that Penang was willing to work with the NSC to help the migrants at sea. He said the state had not been consulted yet but would co-operate.

"If the Federal Government wants to take such measures, I think they have to find an appropriate place. We need to co-operate when it comes to national security," he said.

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