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Malaysian officials must be more ‘civilised’, says ex-refugee
PETALING JAYA: A Syrian refugee who spent seven months stranded at the klia2 terminal in 2018 has spoken out about the need for reforms in Malaysia’s immigration detention centres.

Hassan al-Kontar said Malaysia’s refugee policy lags far behind that of most developed countries, and many Malaysians were “very misinformed” about what goes on at detention centres.

“The immigration officers and police in the detention centre should be civilised. They should care about human rights,” he told FMT.

“They jailed a 12-year old Rohingya boy with me in the detention centre. A kid,” he said. “There were women with babies three or four months old in the women’s cells. That’s not acceptable, by any standard.”

Hassan said Malaysia had a long way to go in handling refugees and asylum seekers.

However, despite his nine-month ordeal in Malaysia, he insists he still harbours some fondness for the country.

For nearly seven months in 2018, Hassan lived at klia2’s arrival hall. He survived off donated airline meals, showered in bathrooms for the disabled, and slept beneath stairwells.

He was stuck at the airport in limbo, unable to return to his war-torn homeland of Syria, and without the papers to enter Malaysia.

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