UTUSAN MALAYSIA reported that the waiting period for Muslims to go to Mecca for their pilgrimage will soon be shortened to only a year, compared to the current four to five years.
The paper quoted Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Abdul Hamid Zainal Abidin as saying that Tabung Haji had made the necessary arrangements with the Saudi government to shorten the waiting period.
A total of 149,752 people are on the Tabung Haji waiting list while the Saudi government allowed a quota of 1,000 pilgrims for each one million population in every country.
“If everything goes smoothly, we will be able to overcome this problem,” Hamid said after meeting the first group of 471 pilgrims who left Malaysia on an Air Asia flight on Sunday.
Abdul Hamid also urged Tabung Haji depositors to obtain their account passbooks at their nearest Tabung Haji branch as soon as possible.
“This is because Tabung Haji has stopped issuing account statements to its depositors since Dec 31,” he said.
The paper and the other mainstream daily, Berita Harian, continued to play up the issue of polygamy after the Perlis government's decision to relax its regulations to deter Malaysians from crossing over to Thailand to take another wife.
Utusan Malaysia reported that Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil would meet Perlis Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim to discuss and end their verbal battle over the issue.
The paper said Shahidan would bring along Perlis Mufti Datuk Mat Jahaya Hussin and three state ulamas.
Berita Harian carried various reactions from state leaders, NGOs and the public on the issue.
Negri Sembilan Mufti Datuk Mohd Murtadza Ahmad said the state had already eased the regulations on polygamy.
“However, our officers will first determine if the men are capable of taking another wife.
“For example, if a man only earns RM1,000 a month and has five children to support, we will reject his wish to practise polygamy,” he said.
The paper carried a letter from a reader who supported Shahrizat’s defence of Muslim women in the country.
“As women, we are of course hurt with the move (by the Perlis Government). It was as if the party which made the proposal did not understand the feelings of a wife,” the reader said.
On another matter, Berita Harian reported that the eldest daughter of the Sultan of Terengganu, Tengku Nadhirah Zahrah Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, began her Year One class at SK Bukit Besar in Kuala Terengganu.
Tengku Nadhirah Zahrah, who was born on Dec 18, 1996, was put in Kelas Elite along with 18 others.
It quoted class teacher Roslina Abu Bakar as saying that her royal pupil could already speak and write well in English.