Recently, the Rohingya community triggered a substantial amount of news in the Malaysian media. Unverified videos and posts were swirling on social media, leading in a sudden increase in hatred towards the community.
It is believed that one of the reasons that triggered the in hatred towards the asylum seekers is the recent arrival and subsequent pushing back of a Rohingya boat.
The controversy sparked in the Malaysian media when the country decided to deny entry to a boat carrying about 200 asylum seekers due to the Coronavirus fears. The Rohingya community were given food by the Malaysian authorities before leaving them stranded at sea.
Meanwhile, on April 15, Bangladesh coastguard said that they spotted at least 382 “hungry” Rohingya refugees floating on a big boat in the country’s territorial waters.
It was also reported that the refugees were initially bound for Malaysia when they learned that the country had shut its borders due to the Coronavirus pandemic, causing them to turn back.
In the last 30 days, Home Affairs Minister Dato Seri Hamzah Zainuddin is observed to control the public’s perception towards the Rohingya community. From April 6 to May 6, Hamzah gave out 350 statements to the media.
He firmly said that the government does not recognize the refugee status of any group, including the Rohingya, further classifying them as illegal immigrants (PATI).
Ranking second is Johor police Ayob Khan who gave out 252 statements.
Ayob Khan statements were more centered to the case of a Rohingya man name ‘Long Tiger’ who was arrested in connection with an extortion case.
During this timeframe, the phrase ‘Rohingya Refugees’ appears as the ‘epicenter’ of the ‘Rohingya – MY’ topic surrounded by other phrases such as ‘Malaysian Waters’, ‘Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan’, and ‘Pelarian Rohingya’.
Besides Home Affairs Minister, PKR President Anwar Ibrahim also shared his two cents on the Rohingya issue. In the media, Anwar appeared more in favor of the Rohingya folks.
He called out the political leaders and elders to speak up about Rohingya problem without fear.
Elaborating on comments he made earlier, which prompted a social media uproar, Anwar said he had never approved granting the refugees Malaysian citizenship. He clarified that the Rohingya did not asked to be granted Malaysian citizenship but had ask to be granted a Myanmar citizenship.
However, Anwar said that the Rohingya should be put together in a controlled area while Malaysia worked out how to send them to a third country.