PUTRAJAYA: Rohingya fleeing persecution from Rakhine state in Myanmar will be permitted entry into Malaysia but the Immigration Department would still need to distinguish between genuine refugees and economic migrants.

“The influx will happen, and Malaysia is one of the refugees’ destinations. I want to emphasise that we will follow whatever policy decisions made by the Home Ministry, including letting the Rohingya refugees in to prevent them from being killed,” Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said after witnessing the anti-corruption pledge by the department’s operations, investigation and prosecution division on Monday.

He was replying to questions from the media on Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed’s statement about accepting more refugees.

He added that refugees with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cards would be permitted entry.

“All this while, we have always said if they are illegal immigrants without passes, we will apprehend them, but this new influx is different because of events overseas,” Mustafar added.

When asked about the Sarawak government’s stance not to accept any Rohingya refugees, Mustafar said that was a policy decision by the state government.

He also said that with 137 legal points of entry via sea, air and land, the department was collaborating with other agencies such as the Border Control Agency, the army, police and even maritime police to “filter” and allow those with legal travel documents entry into the country.

Since the end of the illegal foreign worker registration programme on June 30, the department has apprehended 11,052 illegal immigrants.

“We’ve also apprehended 270 employers throughout the country,” said Mustafar.

He said 99 of the employers and 3,646 illegal immigrants had been charged under the Immigration Act and other regulations.

The director-general also issued a strong warning against attempts to bribe his officers.

“Don’t try to bribe any Immigration officer, because we are ready to take action against people who try to corrupt Immigration personnel,” said Mustafar.


From The Star Online