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COMMENT | Why we should be kinder to Rohingya refugees

COMMENT | I read with distress and alarm the heightened publicity attacks against the Rohingyas and other migrants by Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin and Immigration Director-General Khairul Dzaimee Daud.

Distress because the Rohingya as a group have been subjected to persecution and suffered genocide at the hands of the Myanmar military, and alarm because of the vitriol against a defenceless people.

In August 2017, more than 742,000 Rohingya fled Bangladesh seeking refuge from the Myanmarese regime’s pogrom. Many perished along the way. The refugees who made it to Bangladesh have been sheltered mainly in the camps in Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf. With this massive influx of refugees adding to an older generation of Rohingya who had fled Myanmar into Bangladesh decades earlier, the numbers soon mushroomed to more than a million Rohingya refugees, squeezed into a crowded and underdeveloped border region of Bangladesh.

To enable us to visualise the misery and abysmal conditions they live in, just imagine – there are more than one million refugees in an area of 30 square kilometres for a density of 30,000 in one square kilometre.

Malaysia was once the most vocal advocate for Myanmar’s inclusion in Asean back in the 1990s despite Myanmar being ruled by a military junta. Hence successive administrations felt a sense of responsibility in ensuring the general wellbeing of the Myanmar people and in ensuring Myanmar’s integration into the international community.

During the opening up in the early 2010s...

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