Malaysia must live up to its position as chair of Asean and the Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) by providing humanitarian aid to refugees of the country’s waters, said PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — Malaysia must live up to its position as chair of Asean and the Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) by providing humanitarian aid to refugees of the country’s waters, said PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
The soon-to-be-appointed federal opposition leader further said Putrajaya must take charge of the reported mass human trafficking on the Malaysian-Thai border, and told the government that this was an issue of moral leadership.
“Putrajaya must be more prepared in facing a regional crisis such as this, more when Malaysia is the chair of Asean and the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.
“It is pointless to chair such bodies if it does not act courageously on the basis of human values in this refugee issue,” she said in a statement today.
The Permatang Pauh MP said Malaysia should rightly be at the forefront and an example for the rest of the region by providing food, shelter and medical care to the refugees, instead of turning them away as reported.
An estimated 6,000 to 20,000 migrants are fleeing ethnic persecution in Myanmar and poverty in Bangladesh. They are adrift in the Andaman Sea and the Straits of Malacca.
In what has been called a massive humanitarian disaster by the United Nations, the boat people are believed to have been abandoned by their traffickers with little food or water.
Both Malaysia and Indonesia, which are the reported destinations of the refugees, have declared that they will turn away any who attempt to land on their territory.
Putrajaya’s response has prompted ordinary citizens to mobilise attempts to provide humanitarian relief to the refugees, with social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir today attempting to rally the public to gather resources for the purpose.
Malay Mail Online reported on Tuesday that the Home Ministry classified the refugees as illegal immigrants. The 1,058 currently held at the Belantik detention centre in Kedah will eventually be sent back to their home countries.