Refugees have no legal rights in Malaysia, meaning they have no official status. So there is plenty to advocate about.
Our advocacy relates both to wider issues related to what has happened to refugees in their home country, and to issues such as modern day slavery and human trafficking as well as the specific challenges faced by refugees in Malaysia.
In Malaysia, on-going advocacy continues to highlight the need to recognize basic rights and protection for refugees. The promise in the present government's Manifesto, that refugees be given rights to employment, is not yet fulfilled. Our advocacy supports the implementation of this promise as soon as possible.
Additionally, the right to education for children of refugees is a priority. At the present, there is no such right and the majority of children of refugees have no access to any education This policy condemns thousands of children to a future without hope.
Without any legal status, little or no right to redress, refugees are subject to potential daily harassment, extortion, abuse and possible detention. Also, it allows human trafficking and modern day slavery to flourish.
Further, access to affordable health care services is also challenging, as are issues of gender-based violence, child marriage, and poverty.
ASPIRE Penang supports the principle that as far as possible, refugees should be advocating for themselves. The work in regard to community leadership, women's empowerment and supporting avenues for refugees to build skills and capacity to articulate their own priorities, aspirations and suggestions for change reflects this.
Part of a panel discussion at Penang Refugee Fest 2019
Participation in an advocacy event in KL