Food, oil are okay but not entry

Putrajaya can offer Rohingya refugees food and oil but not entry, said Malaysia's Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Shahidan Kassim in Parliament yesterday.

He said foreigners without valid travel documents cannot be permitted entry into Malaysia, amid criticisms over the country's refusal to rescue the thousands of Rohingya refugees stranded at sea, reported the Malay Mail.

Mr Shahidan, who was urged to explain the issue during question time in Parliament, said: "We insist that we will not accept those without proper documentation and passports into the country,"

He was asked why Putrajaya, the federal administrative capital of Malaysia, has been turning back the refugees when the country has often been used as a transit point for refugees escaping persecution in their own countries.

Mr Shahidan then said all Putrajaya can do at this juncture is to offer the refugees aid in the form of "food and oil".

"But we cannot simply accept someone in, we have to follow the laws," he said.

Mr Shahidan, who is also the National Security Council chairman, said the food, water and fuel was to allow the migrants to continue their maritime voyage elsewhere, reported The Star.

He noted that the government did not adopt an open-door policy for migrants in order to prevent a flood of illegals trying to make their way to Malaysia.

'UNFAIR' He said that there were already some 45,000 Rohingyas living there who are United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cardholders.

"It is unfair of the international media to say that Malaysia is not taking in the migrants.

"UNHCR is supposed to make arrangements for these migrants to be sent to a third country, but this has dragged on for years now," he said.

He added that there are concerns that the Rohingyas are looking at Malaysia not as a transit point but as a country of destination.

Separately, Malaysia said yesterday that its foreign minister would meet his Thai and Indonesian counterparts in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow to discuss ways to tackle human trafficking, after thousands of desperate asylum seekers arrived on its shores in the past week, AFP reported.

This article was first published on May 19, 2015.
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