GEORGE TOWN, May 26 — Penang has washed its hands off the Rohingya refugee issue and blamed Putrajaya for refusing to cooperate with the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state government.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said his administration will no longer answer questions on the Rohingya, ending a verbal tiff between the state and the federal Home Ministry that told Penang to house the ethnic minority from Myanmar to prove its seriousness about human rights.
“We offered to cooperate and asked for more information when they said they want to place the refugees here but our offer was ignored and we did not get any information from the Home Ministry or the police on this at all,” Lim said in a press conference at his office today.
He said Penang will not meddle in the issue as refugees fall under the federal government’s jurisdiction.
Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to provide humanitarian assistance to the 7,000 migrants still adrift at sea, including offering temporary shelter, provided that the international community takes steps to repatriate them within a year.
Lim also expressed shock at the recent discovery of 139 graves at people-trafficking camps in Perlis near the Malaysia-Thailand border, some of which the authorities believe to hold multiple bodies.
“The Home Ministry must answer — how can they not know of these death camps because these could have been there for a while,” he said.
He also urged Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to confirm if there are other similar camps near the border that have yet to be discovered.