Plan to let refugees get jobs

Doing his rounds : Ahmad Zahid visiting the Selayang wholesale market in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR - Refugees will be given training so that they can get jobs while they are in Malaysia, says the Home Ministry.

Giving them employment would deter them from criminal activities, said its minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said the ministry was working with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Immi­gration Department to devise plans on providing training and jobs for the refugees.

Currently, refugees recognised by the UNHCR are only allowed to work on an unofficial basis by doing odd-jobs.

"The presence of the refugees is unavoidable as employers need manpower for jobs that locals do not want," said Ahmad Zahid.

"We are willing to provide the refugees space to work, but they have to follow our laws," he said after a walkabout around the Selayang wholesale market yesterday.

Ahmad Zahid said nearly 90 per cent of the workers at the market were from Myanmar, adding that the market had recorded a 20 per cent drop in sales as Malaysians were afraid to go there due to the clashes among the foreign workers there.

It was reported that about 1,000 Myanmar nationals were picked up by a Kuala Lumpur police task force to avert more clashes between feuding factions.