KUALA LUMPUR - Federal Government facilities and premises will be used to house the Rohingya migrants in Penang, said Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The Home Minister, who on Sunday challenged Penang to be the "champion of human rights it claims to be" by giving shelter to stranded Rohingya and Bangladeshis, said yesterday they had come to this arrangement.
"It would be better if leaders who have been human rights champions translate what they have been calling for on the political stage and in the Dewan Rakyat into action instead of passing the burden to other parties," he said.
Speaking at a press conference at the Parliament lobby yesterday, Dr Ahmad Zahid said his statement on Sunday was a humanitarian and not political one.
His statement came after Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had asked for the migrants to be sheltered in Federal-owned land, saying the state lacked space and had not been consulted by the National Security Council.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said several locations besides Penang had been identified as temporary sites for the stranded migrants and insisted that the DAP-led state take them in.
"We want to see the sincerity of the Penang government, led by DAP that are partners with PKR and PAS, who claim to champion human rights and are always asking the Government to adopt humanitarian policies.
"The Home Ministry and UNHCR have to take the necessary steps to find suitable, legal steps to house the Rohingyas in a third country. We know Turkey is willing to take them in," he said.
In Alor Setar, NSC secretary Datuk Thajudeen Abdul Wahab said immigration depots would be used as a temporary solution to house the Rohingya migrants.
"The depot in Belantik is almost full but there are others in Penang.
"But we have yet to decide whether to use or expand them or even build emergency centres," he said on the sidelines of the Asean Regional Forum Disaster Relief Exercise yesterday.
"Any temporary shelter will have to be in the northern part of the country to minimise the need to transport the migrants," he said.
Thajudeen said it would be easier to move those already at the detention centre in Kedah to other facilities in northern states.
Malaysia and Indonesia recently agreed to continue humanitarian aid for about 7,000 migrants who are adrift in South-East Asian waters.