Myanmar Bans Workers From Going To Malaysia After Najib's Rohingya Protest

"Malaysian companies will face difficulties if Myanmar workers don’t go there."

Cover image via Open Development

The Myanmar government has banned their workers from going to Malaysia for labour purposes.

Myanmar Times reported today, 7 December that the government has issued a statement saying that this is due to the tension that has been raging between the two countries of late.

The English daily said that Myanmar's Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population released a statement on this matter on Tuesday, 6 December.

"I think this is the Myanmar government’s response to Malaysia after their prime minister’s action. Malaysian companies will face difficulties if Myanmar workers don’t go there," said U Myat Thu, a member of the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation's (MOEAF) central executive committee, when asked about the ban by Myanmar Times.

The relationship between Malaysia and Myanmar has turned icy, especially after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak led a fiery protest against the persecution of the Rohingya people last Saturday, 4 December

PM Najib Razak at the protest on Saturday, 4 December.

Image via South China Morning Post

During the protest, PM Najib Razak criticised the Myanmar government for turning a blind eye to the decades old human rights abuse issue of the Rohingya people.

"I will not close my eyes and shut my mouth. We must defend them Rohingya not just because they are of the same faith but they are humans, their lives have values. UN please do something. The world cannot sit by and watch genocide taking place. The world cannot say it is not our problem. It is our problem," said PM Najib last Saturday.

His actions may be the reason why the Malaysian ambassador to Myanmar was summoned to Nay Pyi Taw, the capital city of Myanmar and was given a formal objection to the Malaysian government's way of calling the violence and military operations in Rakhine's Maungdaw and Buthidaung as "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide".

"We don’t agree with their use of the terms 'ethnic cleansing' and 'genocide' so we have officially registered our objection with the ambassador," said the foreign ministry director general U Kyaw Zeya, as reported by Myanmar Times.

Just a couple of days ago, the Malaysian Employers’ Federation (MEF) said that Malaysia may be in trouble if the Myanmar government decides to recall their citizens who are currently working in Malaysia

MEF's executive director Shamsuddin Bardan

Image via Perak Today

MEF's executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said that this could happen due to the growing tensions between the two countries.

"The Myanmar government is not happy with us for condemning them," Shamsuddin told Free Malaysia Today.

FMT reported on Monday, 5 December that there are 141,858 Myanmar workers in Malaysia based on statistics provided by the human resource ministry. 71% of them work in the manufacturing industry.

Should the unthinkable happen, Shamsuddin said that Malaysia should consider hiring locals and even retirees to fill the void. He also suggested that laws should be amended to allow the Rohingya refugees to work here in Malaysia.

"We have more than 150,000 refugees here. We can 'formalise' (the laws) so that they can work here," added Shamsuddin.

In the midst of this, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department wants the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) card to only be issued to Muslim Rohingya refugees in Malaysia

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim

Image via The Malay Mail Online

Bernama reported yesterday, 6 December, that Shahidan has asked for the issuing of the UNHCR card to Myanmar nationals to be reviewed to ensure that the cards are only issued to the Rohingya Muslim refugees.

"I urge that the (National) Security Council look again at the card issued by the UNHCR which should be issued to the Rohingyas," said Shahidan, as reported by Bernama yesterday.

According to him, this comes from his concern that some of the UNHCR card holders may have been involved in committing crimes against ethnic Rohingya people in Myanmar. He also took the opportunity to remind Aung San Suu Kyi on the importance of human rights.

"She (Aung San Suu Kyi) should remember and see whether she qualified to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. I did not expect that she who had purportedly fought for human rights, has allowed the killings and other atrocities to occur in her own backyard," opined Shahidan.

What is the plight of the Rohingya people? Why has it been dubbed a human rights abuse issue? Read this to find out:

Mynamar has been reacting very strongly against Malaysia's interference in the Rohingya persecution problem:

Despite the countless reports and allegations about the abuse of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi is still calling it a "mere fabrication":