Friday May 11, 2012
Malaysia worries haj pilgrims may be affected
By ZUHRIN AZAM AHMAD
PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia hopes its strong relationship with Saudi Arabia will prevent any action to bar Malaysians from performing their haj or umrah.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said the Government was very worried that the Saudi government might bar Malaysians from performing the haj and umrah following reports that some groups of Malaysians had taken part in Bersih 3.0 protests in Mecca and Medina.
He said there was nothing much the Government could do about the Saudi displeasure over the protests on their soil.
“The Saudi authorities have not taken any decision yet.
“All we know is that they are considering taking action which can affect our pilgrims selected to perform the haj,” he said yesterday.
Jamil Khir said Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Malaysia Fahad A.H. Al-Rashid, during a meeting here on Friday, had hinted to him the action on Malaysia could include imposing restrictions or suspending the haj trips of Malaysian pilgrims.
Malaysia, Jamil Khir said, will know whether the country's haj quota is affected when the Saudi government makes the announcement in July.
Malaysia's current quota is 26,000.
“Those who took part in the Bersih rally in Saudi Arabia tarnished Malaysia's image. Before this, Malaysian pilgrims have always been praised by the Saudi government for being the most disciplined.
“We hope the strong ties between the two countries will be a vital factor in resolving the issue,” he added.