Malaysia not sending haj pilgrims this year

Millions of Muslims are staying out of the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca this year due to Covid-19 concerns. (AP pic)

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian Muslims will not be allowed to perform the annual haj pilgrimage this year, following concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri said pilgrims can only perform the haj next year.

The decision will affect 31,600 Malaysian Muslims who were selected to embark on the pilgrimage this year.

At a press conference today, Zulkifli said he had given the official letter of deferment to the Saudi ambassador, adding that Putrajaya made the decision with the people’s health and safety in mind.

Lembaga Tabung Haji CEO Nik Mohd Hasyudeen Yusoff said those affected by the deferment will be given priority to perform the haj next year, while those scheduled for 2021 could also go if the quota was not filled.

All haj payments will be fully reimbursed as soon as possible, while those whose appeals to perform the haj this year were successful are required to appeal again for next year.

Malaysia had been allotted 1,400 more places for the haj this year compared to 2019, when 30,200 Malaysians went to perform the annual pilgrimage.

Malaysia joins several other Asean countries which have also decided to defer the haj season this year for health and safety reasons in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indonesia also decided to defer the haj due to the pandemic and travel restrictions.

Brunei, Singapore, Cambodia and Thailand have also decided not to allow their citizens to perform the haj.

In March, Saudia Arabia had already asked Muslims to put their haj plans on hold and suspended the umrah until further notice.

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