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.
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.
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.