Malaysia, Bangladesh FMs to discuss migrant crisis

Foreign Minister Anifah Aman will meet with his Myanmar counterpart on May 17, 2015 to discuss the Rohingya migrant crisis. — Reuters pic
Foreign Minister Anifah Aman will meet with his Myanmar counterpart on May 17, 2015 to discuss the Rohingya migrant crisis. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — Malaysia's Foreign Minister will meet his Bangladeshi counterpart today to discuss the crisis involving a surge in stricken boatpeople from Bangladesh and Myanmar flooding to Southeast Asia, state media said.

"It is one of the topics and a very important issue in the agenda," Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman was quoted saying in a brief dispatch by Malaysia's official news agency Bernama.

The meeting with Bangladesh's A.H. Mahmood Ali will take place in the city of Kota Kinabalu in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo Island.

Reports in Bangladeshi media suggested that the country's top diplomat was in Malaysia as part of a pre-planned trip rather than in response to the growing international uproar over the migrant influx.

Malaysian foreign ministry officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

More than 1,000 migrants have washed ashore in Malaysia over the past week, with hundreds of others reaching Indonesia.

Activists say thousands more are feared to be drifting at sea in rickety boats after a Thai crackdown on human-trafficking disrupted busy smuggling routes to Southeast Asia.

International pressure on the region to take in the starving migrants arriving in rickety vessels has mounted after Malaysia and Indonesia turned away boats.

The arrivals from Muslim Bangladesh are believed to be mainly economic migrants seeking to escape their country's grinding poverty, while those from Myanmar are predominantly members of that country's repressed Muslim ethnic Rohingya minority.

Thousands of such migrants make it to Malaysia every year, which is sought after for its relatively prosperous economy and for being majority Muslim. — AFP