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Khairy ticks off Umno rep over anti-Rohingya remarks

The former health minister says such comments are characteristic of the 'not in my backyard' attitude.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Duyong assemblyman Mohd Noor Helmy Abdul Halem (centre). Photo: Facebook
Duyong assemblyman Mohd Noor Helmy Abdul Halem (centre). Photo: Facebook

Former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin has criticised an Umno assemblyman from Melaka for his anti-Rohingya remarks, saying they are part of the two-faced stance by politicians who embraced the Muslim refugees in the past.

"There's a term for this, Nimby, not in my backyard. 

"In other words, 'we fight for the Rohingya issue but you don't come to my place'," Khairy said on the latest edition of Keluar Sekejap, a podcast he co-hosts with former Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan.

Khairy was referring to an online post by Barisan Nasional's Duyong assemblyman Mohd Noor Helmy Abdul Halem, who warned Rohingya refugees in his constituency that "there is a crazy YB who will always push".

Earlier this year, Helmy had called for Melaka to be free from Rohingya refugees, blaming the community for crimes in the state.

Helmy in a Facebook post had also urged the authorities to take action against refugees, and warned the public not to be "traitors" by protecting them.

Echoing Khairy, Shahril said the remarks were symptomatic of politicians using the Rohingya issue to boost their popularity. 

"When it has political benefits, as we recall a few years ago, we were fighting for the Rohingya. When it is no longer popular in the community, we turn into heroes to condemn and resort to distasteful words," said Shahril. 

In 2016, then prime minister Najib Razak led a major gathering to voice support for the Rohingya as the Myanmar junta stepped up its presecution of the Muslim minority. 

However, four years later, the now-jailed leader, responding to growing xenophobia against refugees at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, said the government was not obliged to help the Rohingya community.

Last month, rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) hit out at calls for violence against the Rohingya making the rounds on social media. 

It also questioned the government's silence on the issue "despite its insistence on monitoring social media sites", saying investigations appeared to be focused on those who queried the government's integrity. 

"The outrageous xenophobic content being spread around and the call to violence that usually accompanies it must be dealt with swiftly by the Malaysian Multimedia and Multimedia Communication," LFL had said.

Malaysia is home to more than 100,000 Rohingya from Myanmar fleeing the crackdown at home, who account for some 60% of over 180,000 refugees and asylum seekers in the country.