KUALA LUMPUR: The Government is seeking cooperation from the Saudi Arabia to resolve the backlog of 82 prospective haj pilgrims who are still waiting to depart to the Holy Land due to online visa problems, the Parliament heard.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom revealed that a total of 63 flights with more than 23,700 haj pilgrims have departed to either Mecca or Medina.
He added that Tabung Haji was concerned over the welfare of the pilgrims and were working closely with the Saudi embassy in Kuala Lumpur to resolve the problem.
"After the last flight on Wednesday, the number of pilgrims with visa problems is 67 with 15 family members making it a total of 82 prospective haj pilgrims who are still in Malaysia," he told Idris Ahmad (PAS-Bukit Gantang) during Minister's Question Time on Thursday.
Idris had asked the government to state the measures taken to assist haj pilgrims who are currently stranded due to the delay in the issuance of Saudi Arabia visas.
Jamil Khir said the process of obtaining e-visa must be done online through three steps including the "e-hajj muassasah and Foreign Ministry" step, which is fully controlled by Saudi Arabia.
"After receiving approval from the online application, then only an applicant's passport can be submitted to the Saudi embassy in Kuala Lumpur for further vetting process and issuance of visa.
"Also, due to the increase of additional haj quota this year, where all applications were conducted online, this caused a slight glitch in the processing of visas."Tabung Haji has received the commitment and assistance from the Saudi Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. They also have taken necessary steps including increasing the number of staff working and extending the opening hours during the weekend to facilitate the visa management process," he said.