Rohingya crisis: Myanmar blocks migrant workers from seeking jobs in Malaysia

Rohingya refugees in in Malaysia calls on government to help them find work and access education.

Malaysia rally against Rohingya 'genocide' worsens frictions with Myanmar
A banner is tied to barbed-wire outside the Myanmar embassy during a protest against what organisers say is the crackdown on ethnic Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, in Jakarta, Indonesia November 25, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

With anger growing in Malaysia over the treatment of minority Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, the government has stopped workers travelling to Malaysia seeking employment.

Workers from Myanmar have been stopped form going to Malaysia because of security worries, the deputy permanent secretary of Myanmar's Labor Ministry, Maung Maung Kyaw, said. "We instructed all licensed overseas employment agencies to pause sending migrant workers to Malaysia effective December 6 as there are reasons to worry about their security," he told Reuters.

There are approximately 150,000 Myanmar workers in Malaysia according to official records, but there is also sizable number of undocumented Myanmar workers as well in labour-short Malaysia.

According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, of the 135,000 Myanmar refugees living in Malaysia, as many as 55,000 are Rohingya Muslims.

On Wednesday, the Rohingya Society in Malaysia called on Kuala Lumpur to help the Rohingya refugees in Malaysia find work and access education. "The government can do something for us ... and if the government gives the Rohingya a chance to work here legally, it will be better for them," the President of the Rohingya Society in Malaysia, Faisal Islam Muhammad Kassim, told Channel News Asia.

"The world cannot sit by and watch genocide taking place," he said. "The world cannot sit by and say: look, it's not our problem. It is our problem. It is our problem." The refugee leader however, praiseed Prime Minister Najib Razak for speaking up against the atrocities.

"This is the first time in our life a prime minister voiced out for the Rohingya people around the world," he said.

A rally in Kuala Lumpur last week against the alleged ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, had the blessings of the Najib-led Unmo government.

Indonesian concerns

Malaysia's foreign ministry said the Rohingya refugee crisis is "no longer an internal matter but an international matter" and a security threat for Malaysia. "The fact that only one particular ethnicity is being driven out is by definition ethnic cleansing. This practice must stop, and must be stopped immediately in order to bring back security and stability to the Southeast Asian region," the ministry said.

Meanwhile Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world, also expressed concern over the treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar's Rakhine province.

"I have conveyed Indonesia's concern to State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi about the situation in Rakhine State," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Wednesday, Jakarta Globe reported. After meeting Myanmar's de facto leader Suu Kyi, Marsudi said the Myanmar government has "opened its doors for humanitarian aid from Indonesia to reach Rakhine State."