Burmese nationals seeking work or who hope to visit Malaysia will be screened for criminal records, the Malaysian Home Minister has announced.
According to Malaysian daily The Star, Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that only Burmese citizens without a criminal history will be permitted entry to the country following a series of brutal murders involving Burmese nationals.
Twelve Burmese men are currently being detained in connection with two recent murders, the latest in a spate of violence in which 18 Burmese nationals have been murdered in the northern state of Penang in the last year.
There has been a series of crackdowns by Malaysian police on Burmese migrant workers in recent years. In 2013, more than 900 migrants from Burma were detained following the deaths of two Burmese individuals.
Many believe violence involving Burmese nationals in Malaysia is connected to ongoing religious and ethnic tensions between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma.
The Malaysia government is looking to improve its border controls, such as investing in facial imaging software and high-definition CCTV cameras, as they become increasingly concerned with monitoring Burmese citizens entering the country.
Last month, the Burmese parliament complied a report into targeted violence against Burmese migrant workers in Malaysia. The report urged the Malaysian government to take steps to protect Burmese nationals after a Burmese construction worker was murdered in a palm oil plantation in Penang. It was noted that if Malaysia did not respond to the report, Burma’s parliament would raise the issue with ASEAN’s Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.
The Burmese embassy in Kuala Lumpur also released a statement in July saying that Burmese nationals were being targeted by “extremist groups” in Malaysia.