Malaysia houses 200,000 Rohingya refugees, Saifuddin reveals

pic by TMR FILE

THE number of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia is currently around 200,000 — the highest in South-East Asia, Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said.

Saifuddin told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that Malaysia, together with other countries need to continue working towards the cessation of Rohingyans or other citizens’ expulsion from their respective countries.

“Malaysia is taking steps to continue highlighting the issue of Rohingya refugees regionally and globally,” he said.

“At the Asean level for example, Malaysia constantly and loudly spoke out on the issue of Rohingya refugees. Malaysia also strongly supports Asean’s efforts in facilitation on the repatriation of Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar.”

Saifuddin further said Malaysia also sees that if accountability or accountability for this issue can be achieved through International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court, the Rohingya ethnic group is likely to get due protection while deportations as well as violations against them can be stopped.

“In the past, Malaysia had been the first country to facilitate constructive engagement even before Myanmar became a member of Asean,” he said during a question-and-answer session.

He said this in response to Wong Chen (PKR-Subang) queries on whether Malaysia is willing to have a dialogue with the current Myanmar’s unity government, without having to go through Asean as en bloc for the dialogue.

Malaysia is of the opinion that it would be difficult to invite the army chief currently in power in Naypyidaw to attend the Asean Summit on Oct 26 to 28.

Bernama reported that since the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi was overthrown by Myanmar’s junta led by General Min Aung Hlaing on Feb 1, there had been internal unrest with nearly 1,000 civilians killed by security forces.

Asean has also appointed Brunei Foreign Minister II Erywan Mohd Yusof as special envoy to Myanmar but he has not been able to play his role because of the military government’s refusal to cooperate.