Sunday, 18 December 2022, was the UN’s International Migrants Day for the remembrance and protection of the rights of all migrant workers and their families.
G25 lauds the call of the Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz Munawir, for the Malaysian government to review its policies which deny children who are refugees or stateless persons, access to a formal education. His Royal Highness also called for action to break the cycle of poverty among refugees and stateless people as it would benefit the country.
We call on the government to take comprehensive measures to this end and to particularly consider implementing the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration adopted in Morocco in 2018 of which Malaysia is a state party.
We urge the new government to become a global leader in this field and to show our caring attitude, compassion, and competence in this field. The current overcrowded ‘detention centres’ and their operations need to be urgently and seriously reviewed. They should be transformed into community centres for humanity with health services, education and skills development facilities.
We as Malaysians must show dignity and respect to our fellow brothers and sisters who are suffering from inhumanity and cruelty. In addition, the many contributions which migrant workers and refugees can make to a country are unfortunately overlooked, such as their ability to fill the gaps from worker shortages. We must change our mindset and look at the value which refugees and migrants can add and bring to our nation.
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We urge the current government to make public and to implement the report of the independent committee on the recruitment and management of foreign workers 2019. This committee was established by the Pakatan Harapan government in October 2018. Sadly, this report was never made public (let alone implemented) despite repeated calls to do so by G25 and other civil society organisations.
Malaysia has always been a beacon of care, being home to refugees in its history as it is located between the oceans of the East and the West, and where monsoons meet. Our country’s multicultural, multi-religious, and multi-racial diversities make it special globally.
One of Malaysia’s civil society organisations, Tenaganita, even won the Right Livelihood Award, popularly called the “Alternative Nobel Prize”, for its dedicated and courageous work on human rights, including the rights of migrant workers which has now become a hot issue in countries like America and in Europe, among others.
We urge the new government to heed the message of the Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan and the many civil society groups working on this issue at the policy and ground level.
In this regard, G25 also urges the new government to take the necessary steps for Malaysia to accede to the Refugee Convention of 1951. It is high time that Malaysia be a party to this convention and be clear and positive in our stance on the plight of the refugees.
Through the close cooperation with UN agencies, arrangements can be made for refugees to be relocated to other countries, while some may prefer to go back to their own country voluntarily if the circumstances there are such that they will no longer face any political persecution if they return.
We should be a beacon of hope for refugees around the world and show our leadership in humanitarian work in the spirit of universal values and the essence of Islam. – G25