‘ASEAN should take over Rohingya issue’

Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing

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KUCHING: The Rohingya refugee problem is too big a problem for Myanmar to handle alone and since ASEAN countries are affected, the latter should take up the responsibility to help solve the issue.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing said Rohingya refugees are an issue affecting the whole of Asia but most so the South East Asian countries from which they have been seeking aid and protection.

“The Rohingya refugee problem has become an ASEAN problem. It should be settled by ASEAN countries. It is unfair to let Myanmar settle this big humanitarian problem on its own,” said Masing who is also Parti Rakyat Sarawak president.

He said ASEAN countries then must make reference as to how the United Nations settles the issues affecting its member nations.

“The way the UN has handled similar issues affecting its member nations, that is its modus operandi should be applied to solve the Burmese problem once and for all,” said Masing in a statement today.

The Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister said the heads of Asean countries should meet and help Myanmar to find a way out of the long outstanding issue.

The Rohingya refugee situation started in 2015 when there was a mass migration of thousands of Rohingya people from Myanmar and Bangladesh to other parts of South East Asia, especially Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

They are a Muslim minority residing in the Rakhine state. They are considered “stateless people” as the Myanmar government has refused to acknowledged them as citizens.

Without the recognition, the Rohingya are considered illegal immigrants or refugees from the neighbouring country of Bangladesh.

Claiming genocide and persecution from the Myanmar government, the Rohingya have been trying to seek refugee status and humanitarian support in countries in South East Asia.

Many have died during attempts to reach these countries.