Sacking of Saudi minister not linked to Malaysia's increased haj quota, says source

A file picture of Muslims perform Friday prayers at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, with social distancing in place on Feb 26,2021. - Reuters

PETALING JAYA: The sacking of Saudi Arabia's Minister of Haj and Umrah is not linked with Malaysia's recent increased haj quota, according to a diplomatic source.

According to a source close to the matter, only Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, who is also the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, has the sole authority to make decisions on the haj quota.

"The Haj and Umrah Minister has no authority to determine the haj quota to any country including Malaysia.

"The minister's task is to ensure the smoothness of haj and umrah each year," said the source, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Reports have emerged on social media linking the sacking of the Minister of Haj and Umrah with Malaysia's recent increase of haj quota.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman dismissed Mohamed Benten as Haj and Umrah Minister, a position with a leading role in organising Islam's annual pilgrimage, the kingdom's state news agency (SPA) reported on Friday (March 12).

He was replaced by State Minister Issam ben Saeed as Acting Minister.

Malaysia has been granted an additional haj quota of 10,000 which will be implemented after the Covid-19 pandemic is under control and the haj can resume.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the matter had been agreed on by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman when met during a meeting at Al Yamamah Palace on March 10.

The source added that in order to get the haj quota, it requires private discussions between the Saudi royal family and the respective governments.

"In the context of Malaysia, it had direct discussions with the Saudi royals," said the source.

The source said that Muhyiddin did not meet with the Haj and Umrah Minister during his recent trip to Saudi Arabia.

"The issue is a private and internal matter of the Saudi royal family.

"It has nothing to do with Malaysia or the increase of its haj quota.

"It is also irresponsible and illogical to link the two issues," said the source.

The Prime Minister was in Saudi Arabia for a four-day official visit at the invitation of the Saudi Arabia King.

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Saudi Arabia , Malaysia , haj , quota


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