SEPANG: Malaysia expects to get a positive response to its request for an additional quota of 10,000 pilgrims for haj this year, says Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said the government of Saudi Arabia has yet to officially announce its decision to the request.
“It is the prerogative of the Saudi Arabia government. I heard that it is a positive one, a (piece of) good news,” he told reporters after the launch of the Road to Makkah initiative at KLIA yesterday.
Malaysia’s haj quota currently stands at 30,200 pilgrims.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had sent an official letter to the Saudi government requesting for an increase.
Mujahid also extended his appreciation to the Saudi government for continuing the Road to Makkah initiative this year.
“Relations between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have been growing from strength to strength. I’m very happy that the initiative is successfully implemented,” he added.
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 in which pilgrims would get their fingerprints taken and their passports stamped at the country of departure.
Their entry into Saudi Arabia would also be facilitated, such as a domestic flight, while baggage would be sent directly to their accommodation.
There are 12 Saudi immigration counters at KLIA for the initiative this year.
The pilot project was conducted 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 people, departed at 5.30am yesterday. — Bernama