KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 — As many as 33,000 Malaysians have applied to be refugees in Australia over the last few years, according to its High Commissioner to Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski
The Australian diplomat told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview published today that Malaysians topped his country’s list of overstayers at 10,500 people, which he said is more than the total number of the next three countries combined.
He said the refugee applicants were those who overstayed and wanted to avoid being shipped home.
“Many who overstay then apply for refugee status.
“At the moment, we have 33,000 Malaysian citizens — not Syrians not Rohingyas — who have applied as refugees in Australia,” he was quoted saying.
Goledzinowski said Malaysians were taking advantage of the system to avoid deportation as they know Australia is a generous country.
He added that the high number made it impossible for the authorities to distinguish between legitimate and bogus applications.
Goledzinowski said Canberra and Kuala Lumpur are working together to minimise the abuse through education and campaigns.
He said although some of the overstayers claim that they were cheated by agents who promised them working permits, Malaysians must be informed and cautions when it comes to visa applications.
Despite the widespread abuse, Goledzinowski said he has not received any indication that Canberra will revise the Electronic Travelling Authority online visa that was granted to Malaysia since 1990.
Last month Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya said Australia’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal received 4,973 applications for protection visas from Malaysians between July last year and April this year.
He said the applicants cited various reasons, including family stress, racial and religious discrimination and domestic abuse.