Tuesday, November 25, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR: If the attitude of the government is to continue to be in a state of denial over refugee issues, it will continue to the detriment of these refugees and Malaysia’s international reputation.
“The replies of the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaffar in Parliament on Tuesday showed that he is not aware of the seriousness of the accusations revealed in an Al Jazeera programme even though he was interviewed in the programme,” said Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming expressing his disappointment with a debate in Parliament.
“In particular, his replies show that he is totally ignorant of the articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) of which Malaysia is a signatory.”
The Al-Jazeera 101 East documentary entitled, Malaysia’s Unwanted, stressed Ong, was a shocking story on the mistreatment of refugees in Malaysia.
Ong pointed out two examples in the Al Jazeera documentary of how Malaysia had flouted the UN CRC.
Firstly, a Myanmar refugee was thrown in the lock-up not long after she had given birth and as such, was separated from her child.
Secondly, a refugee from Afghanistan in a detention center told the Al-Jazeera reporter that he could only meet his son, who was also at the detention center, once a month and that after a year in the detention center, his son did not recognize him as his father.
He referred to 6 Articles in the UN CRC that were flouted in the two examples above and cited Articles 4, 8, 9, 10, 20 and 22.
“The Minister’s reply was that a child had to be detained in the detention centers on humanitarian grounds so that they can be close to their parents,” said Ong.
“This totally ignores the specific requirements set out in the CRC to protect the liberty of children including that a child must only be detained as a measure of last resort and that they only be detained for the shortest appropriate time.”
This was certainly not the case for the Afghan man whose child had been detained at the same detention center for one year, added Ong. “The humanitarian grounds which the Deputy Minister referred to has been totally ignored in this instance since the father only gets to see his son once a month and his son doesn’t even recognize him as the father!”
It was revealing that the Deputy Minister failed to answer my specific question relating to the case of the Afghani refugee and his child, charged Ong. “Perhaps the Deputy Minister has not even seen the documentary himself!”
“The plight of the refugees in detention centres is not new. Former SUHAKAM commissioner Chiam Heng Keng had highlighted this before in a report dated 5 December 2008.”
The Speaker allowed a one hour debate in Parliament on the documentary.
The debate was allowed under Motion 18 (1) of the Parliamentary Standing Orders because the speaker judged that this motion was (i) specific (ii) of public importance and (iii) of immediate concern.
The motion was filed by Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng.