KOTA TINGGI: Malaysia will not grant political asylum to illegal immigrants including Acehnese who entered the country without travel papers, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.
He said the Government also did not want a situation where recognition was given to illegal immigrants who sought political asylum by asking the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to register them as refugees.
The Government does not regard people from a country facing conflict, such as the people of Acheh, who came here without any document as refugees.
We must explain (to UNHCR), whatever conflict happening in the Indonesian province, because of its proximity to Malaysia, this country will be flooded by immigrants seeking political asylum, just like in the past during the Vietnamese war, causing problems to Malaysia, he told reporters after opening the 24th general meeting of the Kota Tinggi Area Farmers Organisation here today.
Syed Hamid said it was not that Malaysia was not sensitive to the plight of the Acehnese but the country had encountered various problems when dealing with the Vietnamese refugees who reached half a million people at one stage.
On the 232 Acehnese, including 11 women detained in front of the UNHCR office near the Istana Negara last month, he said they could be deported to their country of origin.
He said the Government had to be careful as it did not want to encourage more Acehnese to come to Malaysia to seek political asylum.
We also want the UNHCR to understand Malaysias position and action because the Government faces many problems relating to illegal immigrants, he said.
The 232 Acehnese, aged between three and 40, are being detained under Section 6(3) of the Immigration Act (Amendment) for entering the country without valid travel documents. Bernama