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M’sians come first during  crisis, not Rohingyas: Dons
Published on: Saturday, April 25, 2020
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M’sians come first during  crisis, not Rohingyas: Dons
File photo from Bernama.
Kota Kinabalu: Malaysia has to put its priorities right in protecting and improving the lives and livelihood of Malaysians first – which has to be the utmost priority – in facing the predicament caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, said two academicians.So far, the Malaysian Government has been doing a great job, said Associate Professor Dr Mohd Hazmi Mohd Rusli and Dr Fareed Mohd Hassan of the Syariah and Law Faculty, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia in a joint statement Thursday. They said the Movement Control Order (MCO) has resulted in the dramatic decrease in new infections ensuring Malaysia’s healthcare system does not collapse. “However, what would happen if Malaysia opens its gates and continuously receive the Rohingya asylum seekers to its shores? Cramped in dilapidating boats for months, these refugees may not only have Covid-19, but perhaps other diseases once they arrive into the country.

“This would make things more difficult and complicated for the authorities to control and contain the outbreak, ultimately affecting the well-being of other fellow Malaysians. “So far, Malaysia has been doing its best in providing protection and shelter for thousands of Rohingyas for years. But, things are now no longer the same. “This is the time for the Government to put Malaysians as its foremost priority by tightly sealing off all of its borders in its desperate attempt to disconnect the chain of transmission of Covid-19 in the country for the sake of its own citizens,” they said.

Malaysia has relatively huge territories straddling from the Malay Peninsula to Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo, they said, adding the frontiers of the nation are mostly located in remote hilly areas, covered with thick rainforest making it difficult for extensive surveillance to be carried out. In addition, Malaysia has huge maritime areas stretching from the Strait of Malacca to the South China Sea towards the Sulu Sea, making it challenging for the authorities to carry out extensive surveillance and monitoring activities. “Ever since the outbreak of the Wuhan virus not too long ago, it has claimed 92 lives in Malaysia since then, with 1,987 active cases as at April 22, 2020. New cases of infections of Covid-19 in Malaysia have been dropping ever since the MCO was declared on March 18 and scheduled to end on April 28. “Moreover, not only Malaysians are barred from leaving the country during the entire MCO period, foreigners are also not permitted to enter. The frontiers to the nation are tightly closed to prevent further spread of the Covid-19 plague. Malaysians returning from overseas are required to undergo mandatory quarantine with strict procedures and stationed at a number of quarantine designated places by the government all across the country.

“In addition, the Enhanced MCO has also been declared in a number of high risk areas to further curb the outbreak from getting worse. “Malaysians have been co-operating well with the government to minimise the rate of infection. Lessons must be learnt from Malaysia’s closest neighbour Singapore, that is now suffering from skyrocketing rate of daily infections and hence, the government has to remain vigilant,” they said. They said the Health Director General, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, has repeatedly mentioned in his daily press conference that the Government has to shut and secure Malaysia’s international gateways located all across the country to stop foreign importation of the virus into this country. Consequently, Malaysia has to enhance surveillance not only on its official gateways, but also on hundreds of ‘back alleys’ along the length of the thousands of kilometres of land and maritime boundaries encircling the nation. In relation to the above, they said the arrival of the Rohingyas into Malaysian waters near Langkawi quite recently is a manifestation that effort should be undertaken to further protect the nation’s frontier in its effort to curb the widespread infection of Covid-19. “Needless to say, there have been calls by some urging the Malaysian government to let the Rohingyas into this country. “Malaysia has been very generous and has been actively promoting international peace and solidarity. Despite the fact that Malaysia is not a State Party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Putrajaya has opened its doors to receive this neglected group of people who have been denied citizenship in Myanmar by allowing them to seek asylum here in this country while the rest of the world were not ready to take them in. Malaysia has provided them with hopes for a better future.

“Nevertheless, situations have changed now. As mentioned by the Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Malaysia is now at war with an invisible army, the Covid-19. Businesses have ceased their normal operations during the MCO and the economy is badly affected by the Covid-19 outbreak both locally and internationally,” they said.  





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