PETALING JAYA: The government will decide next month whether refugees will be allowed to work in the country.
Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam told The Malay Mail yesterday that a special Cabinet meeting to discuss issues on foreign workers would be held in mid-December and chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
“It was scheduled for last week but had to be postponed as Muhyiddin was away on a working visit to Japan,” he said.
“So, we’ll only know what the Cabinet decides on refugees next month.”
Earlier this year, the Home Ministry had set up a laboratory, comprising representatives from various ministries and agencies, to study foreign workers issues.
“The laboratory came up with about 55 proposals, including the refugee matter, which will all be forwarded to the special Cabinet meeting,” said Mahmood.
“These are merely initiatives and proposals, and whether each will be approved or not is the prerogative of the Cabinet."
According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Malaysia has 90,000 registered refugees as of September.
Refugees are currently permitted to do only odd-jobs in this country.
Malaysia does not have special laws for refugees and they are considered illegal immigrants. Issues involving them come under the Immigration Act.
Mahmood said the Home Ministry was mulling suggestions by various quarters, particularly the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), that refugees be allowed to work here while waiting to be resettled to third countries.
The MTUC had hoped they would be permitted to work in labour-strapped sectors to help overcome labour shortages and reduce the need to bring in foreign workers, and believed their proposal would enhance Malaysia's image as a humane nation.
Source : The Malay Mail