SEPANG: Malaysia expects to get a positive response to its request for an additional quota of 10,000 pilgrims for Haj this year, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa.
He added that the government of Saudi Arabia has yet to officially announce its decision to the request.
“It is the prerogative of the government of Saudi Arabia. I heard that it is a positive one, a (piece of) good news,” he told reporters after the launch of Road to Makkah initiative at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), here, today.
Malaysia’s Haj quota currently stands at 30,200 pilgrims but Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had sent an official letter to the Saudi government requesting for an increase.
Meanwhile, Mujahid extended his appreciation to the Saudi government for continuing the Road to Makkah initiative this year.
“The relations between Malaysia and Arab Saudi has been growing from strength to strength and I’m very happy that the initiative is successfully implemented,” he said.
Mujahid said the initiative saves time and provides convenience for Malaysian pilgrims, notably the elderly and the disabled.
Road to Makkah is a Haj pre-clearance system where pilgrims under the initiative would get their fingerprints taken, their passports stamped at the pilgrim’s country of departure, and their entry into Saudi Arabia would be facilitated like a domestic flight, while items of baggage would be sent directly to their accommodation.
There are 12 Saudi immigration counters at KLIA for the initiative this year.
The initiative’s pilot project was conducted in Malaysia in 2017 before it was fully launched last year for about 65,000 Malaysian and Indonesian pilgrims.
This year sees the introduction of the initiative in Tunisia, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Malaysia’s first group of pilgrims for this season’s Haj, comprising 483 individuals, departed for Saudi at 5.30am on Thursday (July 4). – Bernama