Home English News “Home Minister Hamzah should not give Malaysia a bad name” – Ramasamy

“Home Minister Hamzah should not give Malaysia a bad name” – Ramasamy

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COMMENT BY YB PROF DR P.RAMASAMY, DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER II, PENANG

If anyone intends to give Malaysia a bad international image, it could be none other than the controversial Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin. Apart from his differences with the former IGP, he has now got into a quarrel with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on the matter of inspection of immigration detention centres.

Hamzah has flatly refused permission for the UNHCR representatives to visit the immigration detention centres on the pretext that the Malaysian authorities know very well that only the undocumented migrants have been detained.

Since the home ministry has the required information, there was no necessity for the UNHCR representative to make a visit. He further lamented the fact that the UNHCR had issued 120,000 permits for undocumented migrants, without getting clearance from the immigration.

Hamzah questioned that Malaysia might end up with two authorities, the immigration and the UNHCR in issuing permits. Anyway, he said that if migrants are holding UNHCR cards in the detention centres, he would ask for their immediate release.
He just couldn’t understand that UNHCR permits are meant for undocumented migrants to stay in the country for a brief period but not indefinitely. If the Malaysian authorities in particular the immigration have nothing to hide, what is the problem of allowing access to the UNHCR representatives.

It is not the UNHCR do not trust the Malaysian authorities, but isn’t their role to check and verify information by visiting the detention centres. UNHCR have been inundated with complaints that those migrants holding their temporary stay permits have been rounded up for deportation.

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Human rights is a paramount issue, it is not that UNHCR wants to question or ridicule the Malaysian authorities. They have responsibility in protecting refugees, issuing them temporary permits for stay, especially those from the war torn countries and ultimately locating them in other countries.

Hamzah should not complain of the UNHCR unnecessarily, they have an unenviable job to perform in the country. It is not that Malaysia is a splendid example of country when it comes to the humane treatment of documented or undocumented migrants.

Given Malaysia’s not so good record of treatment of foreign migrants, then why blame the UNHCR for asking for inspections of the detention centres. The relationship between Malaysia and the UNHCR has not been amicable for years.

In fact, I was told by one of its officials that there is not even a formal recognition of the UNHCR in the country. Thus, the relationship between the government and the UN body is rather informal or even ad hoc in nature.

I would advise Hamzah to stop his pettiness to propose the full formal recognition of UNHCR in the country.

If matters of immigration particularly pertaining to migrants are too hot, he can always take the door that he cane in first.
Stop being a clown!
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