Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has refused to be drawn into speculation about conflict between his ministry and that of the home affairs over the country’s bid for a seat at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
MalaysiaNow previously reported concerns that a reversal of earlier commitments by Putrajaya to protect the rights of refugees could deal a blow to its diplomatic image, amid speculation that a mass deportation of refugees could be in the works, as part of a grand plan by the home ministry to ensure zero illegal migrants.
Such a move which would impact tens of thousands of Rohingya and other groups who fled violence in Myanmar.
When contacted by MalaysiaNow, however, Hishammuddin remained reserved.
“Can’t comment on rumours,” he said.
However, he assured that Malaysia’s efforts to secure a seat at the UNHRC remained on target. “We are on track,” he added.
Hishammuddin has been trying to build rapport with the UN’s refugees commission, UNHCR, since formally announcing Malaysia’s bid for a seat at the human rights council for the 2022-2024 term in December last year.
Malaysia was first elected to the council in 2006 but its membership was discontinued after 2013. Concerns have been expressed over recent statements from Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin which could delay its return.
A source said Hamzah had been critical of UNHCR and “repeatedly talked about deporting refugees even in the full knowledge that for many of them, it would be like being sent to the Killing Fields”.
At a recent event, he also accused the UNHCR of failing to help Malaysia repatriate refugees to third countries.