27 April 2020
Press statement by MCA International Communication & Diplomacy Bureau Chairperson Dr Tee Ching Seng
Don’t hide under the shell of “human rights” to exploit govt’s pandemic preventive measures
As the Covid-19 outbreak continues to grip the world, and the governments and peoples of all nations struggle to defeat the pandemic, a group of organisations and politicians have emerged expressing dissatisfaction over the government’s refusal to allow vessels shipping Rohingya refugees to dock on our shores. In fact, these groups even accuse Malaysia of breaching international and national obligations.
The global Covid-19 pandemic has entered a severe period, and not a lull one. In the face of this contagion, the movements of Malaysians and residents in Malaysia have been restricted for more than a month. Our economy has been terribly battered, and the common layperson is likewise badly affected. Through public cooperation, the number of cases diagnosed positive has slipped to double digits. All medical, military and police personnel and other frontliners are battling strenuously each day, risking their lives. How is Malaysia going to have the extra resources and capacity to accommodate new influxes of refugees, when according to Aljazeera, Italy has closed its ports to refugee ships due to the coronavirus.
Moreover, lodging for new refugee arrivals at present times will heighten people’s anxieties on infection risks. On humanitarian grounds, our maritime agencies gave out food, water and medication supplies before escorting the vessel out from Malaysian waters.
For organisations and politicians rallying the banner of “human rights”, if they really desire to secure human rights for the Rohingyas, their target should be the Myanmar government and not the Malaysian government. Present times obstruct the feasibility of hosting refugees.
Malaysia has hosted hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees since the past, and our government has undertaken its best to provide aid to these refugees residing in Malaysia during the pandemic. As all efforts are being exercised to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, we must temporary deny all entries of refugees.
We empathise fully with the predicament endured by all refugees. But priority now must be on safeguarding the “human rights” ie the health and livelihoods of all Malaysian citizens and residents in our country. After all, the problem of the Rohingyas and all other refugees cannot be remedied by Malaysia alone. It is an issue which the entire ASEAN and United Nations must resolve jointly.
Dr Tee Ching Seng
MCA International Communication & Diplomacy Bureau Chairperson