PUTRAJAYA: Rohingya refugees have no status, right or basis to make demands on the Malaysian government, says Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.
He said any society or organisation that claimed to represent the Rohingya here was illegal under the Registrar of Societies Act.
"The Home Ministry has made checks with the RoS and found no organisations under the name 'Rohingya' are registered in Malaysia.
"Any organisation that claims to represent the Rohingya ethnic group is illegal under the RoS Act, and legal action can be taken.
"Therefore, Rohingya nationals who are holders of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) card have no status, rights or basis to make any claims on the government," he said Thursday (April 30).
Recently, a number of statements made by individuals from the Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation in Malaysia demanded certain things from the Malaysiam government, such as equal rights, job opportunities, health access and education.
The demands triggered a negative reaction among some Malaysians towards Rohingya refugees, with a number of them urging the government to repatriate all Rohingya and stop accepting them.
According to records, as of March this year, there are 179,521 UNHCR cardholders in Malaysia, of which 101,584 are Rohingya.
Hamzah said the ministry was aware of the people's concerns over issues involving Rohingya.
He pointed out that Malaysia was not party to the Refugee Convention 1951 or its Protocol, hence there was no legal or administrative framework to oversee the status and rights of refugees here.
"The government does not recognise their status as refugees but as illegal immigrants who are holders of the UNHCR card," he said Thursday.
Nevertheless, Hamzah explained that on a humanitarian basis, these people were allowed to live in Malaysia temporarily before they are placed in a third country by the UNHCR.
"The government remains committed to ensuring public order is protected. Any action by UNHCR cardholders that threatens peace and public order will not escape action," he said.
He said police had received 19 reports against Rohingya throughout the movement control order (MCO) and four investigation papers had been opened.