Saifuddin: M’sia will not deport Rohingyas

If this issue is not resolved, more of them will be on the run, says minister

by LYDIA NATHAN / pic by TMR FILE PIX

THE government has given the assurance that Rohingya refugees will not be deported, in line with Malaysia’s firm disposition on the unrest and related issues that are plaguing their country of origin.

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (picture) said some 100,000 Rohingya people, who have fled Myanmar, are now in the country and they will receive assistance from Malaysia as they are the victims of the prolonged unrest in their homeland.

He said millions have already been spent on humanitarian aid for the Malaysian Field Hospital in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, with the support from other countries.

“If this issue is not resolved, more of them will be on the run and some may even lose their lives, while the cost of humanitarian aid will continue to increase when that money could be used elsewhere,” he told reporters at the International Symposium on the Path to Justice for the Rohingyas: The International Criminal Court and Other International Accountability Mechanisms held at the International Islamic University Malaysia in Gombak, Selangor, yesterday.

Saifuddin said while the Malaysian government is not calculative in its involvement in the issue, the problem persists as a result of Myanmar’s apathy.

Saifuddin said discussions should be held on three main aspects — that the perpetrators must be brought to justice, while assistance is given to the Rohingyas to go back to their country; along with further humanitarian aid.

“Justice for them must be maintained. We are also looking at their citizenship status. Not every country is talking about it, but it is important for them to belong to a nation,” Saifuddin said.

He said justice through the International Criminal Court might be the next step in holding the Myanmar government accountable for the atrocities that have happened.

“However, we cannot be radical or rush into anything for now. What is needed is a tactful approach so we can reap the best benefits out of it,” he said.

He added that while Asean nations have a non-interference policy, foreign ministers of these countries had collectively managed to convince Myanmar to accept assistance from the caucus.

“Our commitment is to put closure to the issue. There are many ways to get things done, and I’m hoping the discussion today will provide some recommendations and ways to help,” Saifuddin said.

As for job opportunities that could be offered to the refugees, he reiterated that the government’s main priority now is to clean up the system and create employment for Malaysians first.