PUTRAJAYA: The government is considering allowing the 80,000-odd refugees to work in the country.
The Home Ministry and Wisma Putra are expected to discuss the issue following calls from many sectors asking the government to allow the group to work here while waiting to be resettled in third countries.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hisham-muddin Tun Hussein said the matter was being considered because the refugees’ stay in Malaysia was only temporary.
“The suggestion might work but we need to look at it from all angles.
“The implications need to be made known before we decide. “My ministry cannot decide on this alone. We will engage the Foreign Ministry and probably even foreign missions as well as other relevant authorities to get their views,” he said yesterday.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said the government needed to weigh all the pros and cons before implementing the new policy.
“We have to study this in detail. It will benefit the country if refugees with certain expertise are allowed to work while they are here,” he said.
Several parties, including the Malaysian Trades Union Congress have called on the government to allow refugees to work, particularly in labour-strapped sectors, instead of importing more foreign workers.
This would help to overcome the worker shortage and, at the same time, gain Malaysia international recognition as a humane country.
Refugees who are waiting to be resettled to third countries are not allowed to work but can take on odd-jobs.
The government announced recently that it planned to issue identification cards to refugees so that they would not be arrested as illegal immigrants.