GEORGE TOWN: The issue of Rohingya refugees entering Penang or other states is a national problem and needs to be referred to the Home Affairs Ministry, Chow Kon Yeow tells Penang state assembly.
The Penang Chief Minister said the state government is aware of business activities carried out by the refugees.
"The local authority has been monitoring the situation based on complaints they have received.
"However, monitoring the entry of Rohingya refugees into Malaysia, particularly in Penang, involves security forces from the Federal level, where their policies do not allow the entry of refugees, whether it be by sea or land.
"However, the current concern revolves around land entry.
"Currently, the problem is further complicated as we have an extensive border between Thailand and Malaysia as well as there being a syndicate that facilitates the refugees.
"This helps them enter, obtain work, open businesses and then there are relatives who are here and are well settled which increases the number of refugees coming in," he said responding to a question by Bukhori Ghazali (PN-Pinang Tunggal) regarding the status of Rohingya refugees in Penang, including business activities that they were carrying out in the state.
Bukhori in his supplementary question requested that the state government not just depend on the Federal Government when handling the issue of Rohingya refugees.
Chow said through briefings and meetings he was informed that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) card provided to refugees has been misused.
"The card is issued only for resettlement but it is misused.
"We do not have camps to hold refugees until they are resettled in third countries.
"This is not only an issue in Penang but in other states, which is why I define it as a national issue that needs to be referred to the Home Affairs Ministry," he said.