KUALA LUMPUR: Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) will bear the cost of the haj visa for each Malaysian pilgrim following a decision by the Saudi Arabian government to impose a new charge of 300 riyal (about RM326) for each visa issued this year.
TH haj senior general manager Datuk Seri Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman said he believed the Saudi government’s decision to impose the charge, which overall amounts to about RM10mil, was based on the various services rendered to haj pilgrims from all over the world each year.
“I want to make it clear that TH will bear
the cost of the haj visa of 300 riyal for each Malaysian pilgrim. If we want to apply for visa to enter a foreign country, of course there will be a charge. I’m sure there is a reason for the Saudi government to impose this new charge.“With the outstanding services and facilities that they (Saudi Arabia) have made available for every guest of Allah to come and perform their pilgrimage and get a mabrur haj (obedience to the haj ritual that is accepted by God) each year, it seems justifiable, ” he added.
He said this during a recent appearance as the guest speaker on Bernama Radio’s Malam Ini talk show and Bernama TV’s Ruang Bicara programme, which discussed the current challenges in haj management.
Syed Saleh, who is also the head of the Malaysian Haj Delegation, said the new charge was introduced after the Saudi Arabian government abolished the 2,000 riyal (RM2,168) imposed on repeat pilgrims.On Jan 22, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof said he was informed about the matter during his recent discussions with Saudi Arabian Haj and Umrah Minister Mohammad Saleh Taher Benten on issues related to the management and preparation of pilgrims from Malaysia for the 2020 haj season.
On the cost of performing the haj for Malaysians, Syed Saleh said it would remain the same for now but in view of the rising overall costs each year, TH might have to look into it later.
“If we look at 2009, the cost of performing the haj was only RM12,600 but last year, it jumped steeply to RM22,900. But we will still maintain the haj assistance and pilgrims registered under TH need only pay RM9,980.
“The rising overall haj costs are indeed a big challenge for us, ” he said.
He said 600 staff, including 250 doctors and medical personnel, as well as haj guides, counsellors and National Registration Department staff would be involved to ensure smooth running of this year’s haj operations.
A total of 31,600 Malaysians will be performing their pilgrimage this year compared to only 30,200 last year.
The increase of 1,400 pilgrims in the quota was a result of the discussions between the governments of Malaysia, through TH and Saudi Arabia, to reflect the increase in Malaysia’s population.
The selected pilgrims are expected to receive their haj offer letter in stages. — Bernama
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