KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — Three divisions of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia (APPGM) have called for bi-partisan cooperation to help the country develop appropriate and holistic policies on refugee management.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia on Refugee Policy, All-Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia on The Reform of Prisons and All Places of Detention; and All-Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia on The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in a joint statement today, also called for an equitable and inclusive COVID-19 health response and recovery for the benefit of all.
“The role of Parliamentarians from all political parties is vital in spearheading a serious bi-partisan dialogue based on data and facts for the development of a comprehensive refugee policy that is holistic and based on the best interest of all people in Malaysia.
“We must put people before politics in the public interest of our nation and humanity,” it said in a statement in conjunction with World Refugee Day.
The statement also said the formulation of domestic refugee policies required cross-party commitment to objectively assess the situation and determine the best policy options on refugee management in Malaysia.
It said the process should take into account Malaysia’s unique development context, the humanitarian needs of refugees, resources and capacities, as well as the nation’s role in regional responsibility-sharing.
“It should engage diverse stakeholders including government agencies, parliamentarians, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the private sector, as well as local and refugee community leaders,” it said.
The statement said the development of domestic refugee policy should also take into account the current challenge of controlling the spread of COVID-19 and accelerating public health, economic and social recovery.
Commending the government for agreeing to vaccinate refugees and migrants, it also stated the need to create an environment where refugees can come forward for testing and vaccination without the fear of arrest and detention.
It said that while refugees are in Malaysia temporarily, it was essential to work towards policies that allow for basic rights prior to their resettlement to a third country, or their safe, dignified and voluntary return to their countries when they become peaceful again.
“Concrete steps towards developing refugee policy would also demonstrate Malaysia’s ongoing commitment to human rights, and support Malaysia’s candidacy for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council for 2022-2024.
“The lack of legal documentation, access to livelihoods, education and healthcare, as well as the continued risk of arrest and detention have resulted in refugees falling into poverty and marginalisation which, in turn, holds back Malaysia’s progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2030 objective of leaving no one behind,” it said.