Putrajaya wants the United Nations refugee agency to send the refugees it has registered in Malaysia to other countries.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar today said Malaysia was not a signatory of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) convention, but was still harbouring some 150,000 foreigners who carried UNHCR cards.
He said most of them were from Myanmar.
"We must point out that Malaysia is not a signatory of the UNHCR convention," he said during a visit to the Penang police headquarters in George Town. Also present was Penang police chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi.
Wan Junaidi’s comments come in the wake of 18 murders in Penang in which bodies of Myanmar migrants, mostly illegals, were chopped up and the parts discarded at various locations.
He warned the migrants and refugees behind the crimes, who are suspected to be from Myanmar as well, not to break the law in Malaysia.
Nine Myanmar nationals, aged between 20 and 40, were charged at several courts in Penang with the deaths of their countrymen, on Wednesday.
Police are looking for four more suspects linked to this group, and are also searching for a second cell of Myanmar murderers in Penang whose members have also gone into hiding.
“Malaysia has allowed refugees to remain in the country on humanitarian and compassionate grounds,” Wan Junaidi said, adding that UNHCR should not take advantage of this.
He said the refugees may hold UNHCR cards but they were still staying in Malaysia without valid travel documents and can be moved to another country.
He said the Home Ministry had communicated Malaysia’s stand to the UN agency that refugees should be sent to a third country instead of being allowed live in Malaysia where they are illegal.
He added that signatories of the UNHCR convention should be willing to take the refugees. – January 16, 2015.