PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will not be sending pilgrims to perform the haj this year as Saudi Arabia has announced that only those who are currently in the kingdom are allowed to do so.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri said Malaysia respected the Saudi government's decision.
Zulkifli said he received a phone call from Saudi's deputy minister of Haj and Umrah Dr Abdulfattah Sulaiman Mashat who conveyed his government's decision.
"This (decision) is due to the current situation pertaining to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the decision by the Saudi government, we will not be sending pilgrims for the haj this year," he said in a statement on Saturday (June 12).
He said that Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had also been informed on the matter by his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal Farhan Al-Saud.
Zulkifli apologised to those who have been selected to perform the haj as they now have to postpone their pilgrimage.
"I will see to it that the affairs of Malaysians who are in Saudi Arabia and have been selected to perform the haj will be looked after by Tabung Haji and will follow the standard operating procedures enforced by the government," he said.
Zulkifli also expressed appreciation to the King of Saudi Arabia, King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud for the good relations with Malaysia.
Saudi Arabia has restricted the annual haj pilgrimage to citizens and residents and has set a maximum number of 60,000 pilgrims due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to reports, only people aged between 18 and 65 who have been vaccinated will be able to perform the haj.
Malaysia did not sent pilgrims for the haj season last year due to the pandemic.