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PKR MP calls for better refugee policies after depot breakout

By FMT Reporters (21 April 2022) PETALING JAYA: A PKR MP has urged Putrajaya to implement better policies when it comes to refugees and asylum seekers after 528 Rohingya inmates broke out of a temporary detention centre in Kedah yesterday. Subang MP Wong Chen said the authorities must ensure recaptured detainees were not punished for fleeing, and called for Suhakam and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to be given access to the refugees and to inspect the depot. He also urged the Parliamentary Select Committee on Fundamental Liberties and Constitutional Rights to summon home minister Hamzah Zainudin to answer several fundamental issues on Malaysia’s refugee policy. “This breakout should be viewed not as one of human tragedy but as a serious policy wake-up call for the government to be more transparent and do much more to help refugees seeking asylum in Malaysia,” he said in a statement today.

“The minister has to answer why the government has stopped the UNHCR from having full access to refugees seeking asylum in Malaysia. “The minister has to disclose how much we are spending on managing refugees and be fiscally accountable on all expenditures.

“He also has to revamp, develop and implement better policies and administrative provisions to process applications for asylum.”


Wong Chen reminded Hamzah that ESG (environmental, social and governance) was an important aspect now which could affect Malaysia’s international standing, urging the minister to take a humanitarian approach. He urged Putrajaya to be transparent about what took place in the Sungai Bakap depot as well as the conditions in other immigration detention centres.

“This breakout does not appear to be a planned incident with any external help, as these refugees, including young children, were reported to be merely walking barefoot without any food or water and any clear final destination.

“To me, it appears that all they wanted to do was to get as far away from the Sungai Bakap detention centre as they possibly could. This was clearly an act of extreme desperation.”

Early yesterday morning, 528 Rohingya inmates fled the temporary immigration depot at Bandar Baharu, Kedah. There were 664 inmates at the centre at the time.

A total of 357 inmates were rounded up by police. Six were killed when they were crossing a highway.