Sunday, July 25, 2021

Govt to review policy on foreigners in the country, says home minister

Hamzah Zainudin also pans UNHCR over its cardholders, saying there is no enforcement.

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The home ministry will review and issue a policy involving foreigners to resolve problems that arise which have an impact on local communities, says minister Hamzah Zainudin.

He said the ministry will hold discussions with all relevant parties including the immigration department, police and National Registration Department on what should be highlighted in the policy.

“There are many complaints from the community here related to foreigners. For example, a housing unit has three rooms that accommodate three families. This causes noise problems.

“Besides, there are also complaints from locals saying that these foreigners are involved with drugs,” he told reporters after a visit to two locations in Bukit Mertajam yesterday, where the immigration department inspected nearly 100 foreigners including UNHCR cardholders.

Commenting on UNHCR’s willingness to share the details of its cardholders only on the assurance that the refugees would not be arrested, Hamzah said: “It’s good that they want to share. But if you (UNHCR) set a condition, you are actually not sincere.

“UNHCR issued the card to them but there is no enforcement. If the card has expired and they (refugees) are still residing here, we do not know how to locate them because UNHCR did not share any details with us.”

Hamzah said the matter could be resolved in a more orderly manner if there is a policy, adding that disagreements could be avoided.

When asked if the government was ready to consider the use of refugee camps, Hamzah said: “That is one of the suggestions, but I am not so sure what kind of refugee camps because we need to look at the reality, location, infrastructure. All these need to be taken into account (before announcing any policy).”

Last week, the home ministry had asked UNHCR for data on its cardholders so that they could be included in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

At present, there are 178,715 UNHCR cardholders but no information on where they are.

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