KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 26 — A special immigration card to identify and confer legal status to the stateless Rohingya community should be established, Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) special envoy to Myanmar Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar suggested today.
Rather than relying on the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) card which identified refugees, the proposed new system would enable the Rohingya to be legally employed, receive medical attention and their children enrolled into legit schools, he added.
“We must have a system of registration. It would be easy for them to get jobs and make them not illegal. A card system like the immigration card can be issued to them,” he told a news conference after handing out welfare aid to the Rohingya community here.
‘The UNHCR cards only show that they are refugees. We want them to have rights before problems in their country is solved under international laws,” he added.
Syed Hamid also said that while Malaysia accepts the Rohingyas escaping their conflict-riddled home state in Myanmar, there is currently no structured framework in place to prevent the people from being exploited.
“We need to structure ourselves properly. We cannot be like now… so that they can get healthcare, go to school and get rights.
“At present in Malaysia, they are all over the place. We don’t want them to be exploited by any groups,” he said.
The former foreign minister also urged Putrajaya come up with a policy for the Rohingya, with urgent attention on education for their children.
At the same time, Syed Hamid also deflected criticism on Malaysia’s delay in signing 1951 UN Refugee Convention.
“We are an open country. We are a maritime state. If we open our shores, a lot of refugees will come in. That is why we are careful,” he said.
Malaysia recently became vocal against the persecution of the Rohingya who are predominantly Muslims from the Rakhine state of Myanmar.
The federal government has expressed concern over the Myanmar government’s treatment of the Rohingya, highlighting that over 50,000 has fled here and pose a significant security and safety issue to Malaysia