Govt may allow refugees to be hired for low-skilled jobs

KUALA LUMPUR: A plan to allow hiring refugees for low-skilled jobs is being looked into by the government, says Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali.

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Sabah, Sarawak Affairs and Special Functions) said the positions would be filled from the existing foreign labour quota of employers.

“Prospective employers are required to comply with eligibility requirements as well as the current employment policy and labour law.

“The government has also held engagements with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to obtain profiles of refugees covering education level, skills and types of work undertaken, including suggestions to learn best practices from countries such as the Philippines and Turkey,” he said in a written reply on Tuesday (Oct 31) to William Leong (PH-Selayang).

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Leong had asked if the government would consider proposals to allow employment of refugees registered with the UNHCR as opposed to increasing foreign labour quota.

Armizan also said the government needs to consider spillover effects in formulating any plan to allow the hiring of refugees and asylum seekers.

“The plan is being scrutinised so that it will not (pose) competition to local talents and does not become a 'pull factor; for foreigners to misuse UNHCR status,” he said.

He added that a refugee registration system is also being established by the Home Ministry.

ALSO READ: Refugees may be able to work in plantation sector

Armizan added that the Human Resources Ministry is looking into suitable mechanisms to allow hiring registered refugees, limited to 3D jobs (dirty, dangerous and difficult).

Malaysia is not a signatory to the United Nations' 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 protocol.

The 1951 Convention provides the internationally recognised definition of a refugee and outlines the legal protection, rights and assistance a refugee is entitled to receive.

In June, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddinn Nasution Ismail told the Dewan Rakyat that the government's current policy on refugees and asylum seekers was leaning towards enabling them to earn a livelihood.

This involved access to employment, education and healthcare services, he added.

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