PETALING JAYA: Malaysians performing their Haj this year are advised to comply fully with tighter security measures in the Holy Land due to recent terror attacks in Saudi Arabia.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said these include 10-finger biometric scanning for each visitor arriving at Saudi airports.
Female pilgrims must wear a chip-embedded bracelet during their stay in the country, while hotels will have tighter security screening for all visitors and guests.
“In light of the terror acts during Ramadan earlier this year at the compound of the Nabawi mosque in Medina, the Saudi government will be imposing several additional security measures.
“These measures cannot be avoided as they are meant to help keep you safe,” the Prime Minister said at a ceremony to send off a group of Malaysian pilgrims leaving for the Haj.
Najib said Tabung Haji would conduct regular security briefings for Malaysian pilgrims to help them stay safe.
The Government, he said, would do all it could to serve the country’s pilgrims and was committed to continue subsidising the cost of the pilgrimage.
“This year, the subsidy per pilgrim is RM8,910, which is a record.
“The overall subsidy bill for the Haj this year is RM160mil compared with RM150mil last year,” said Najib.
He advised Malaysians to maintain the spirit of unity among the Muslim ummah when performing the Haj and to uphold the country’s good reputation.
Najib, accompanied by his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and Tabung Haji officials, later mingled with the group of 450 pilgrims at the Tabung Haji complex here.
The group left for Saudi Arabia at 7.30pm yesterday.
They are the second Malaysian group to depart for the pilgrimage this year. The first group left yesterday morning.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, who was also present at the event, said 47 flights would carry this year’s batch of 22,320 pilgrims from Malaysia to Saudi Arabia.
The last flight carrying Malaysian pilgrims will depart for Saudi Arabia on Sept 5.
Najib, in a posting on his website www.najibrazak.com, said the Hari Raya celebration in the country –where Malaysians of all religions joined their fellow Muslims at Hari Raya Open houses – was a unique display of harmony which should be celebrated.
“Where else but in Malaysia can we see such diversity and differences being celebrated together during a festival, regardless of race and religion?
“Even more so, it is not limited solely to the Hari Raya celebration, we are fortunate in Malaysia, we can celebrate six major festivals of various religions and races in the calendar of the federation.
“This is the uniqueness and advantage of Malaysia, unity in diversity,” he said.
The Prime Minister expressed hope that efforts to strengthen ties such as that shown during the festival would continue.