Malaysia’s leader says Rohingya not just a Myanmar issue

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (L) and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (R) listen to an address as they attend the New Colombo Plan Reception at the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)-Australia special summit being held in Sydney on March 17, 2018. (Dan Himbrechts/POOL/AFP)
Updated 17 March 2018
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Malaysia’s leader says Rohingya not just a Myanmar issue

SYDNEY: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak says the displacement of Rohingya Muslims is no longer solely a domestic issue for Myanmar, as Southeast Asian nations signed a counterterrorism cooperation agreement at a regional leaders’ conference.
Najib made his comments on Saturday at a meeting of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that is being hosted by Australia. The meeting has been marked by protests against Myanmar.
In a rare departure from the grouping’s policy of non-interference in the affairs of fellow member nations, Najib said Rohingya fleeing from alleged persecution are a prime target for radicalization from the Daesh group.
Leaders signed the memorandum of understanding on counterterrorism, at a time of increased risk due to militants fleeing Islamic State losses in the Middle East.


‘Makkah Road Initiative’ to fast-track Malaysian and Indonesian Hajj pilgrims

Updated 12 min 20 sec ago
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‘Makkah Road Initiative’ to fast-track Malaysian and Indonesian Hajj pilgrims

KUALA LUMPUR: Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Indonesia have joined forces to launch the “Makkah Road Initiative” this year, a pre-clearance system that will help Hajj pilgrims to fast-track journeys to the Holy Land.
Two flights carrying Hajj pilgrims were commissioned at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to mark the official launch, which was attended by officials from Malaysia, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.
According to Minister in the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office for Islamic Affairs, Dr. Mujahid Yusuf, who also launched the Makkah Road Initiative, pilgrims will no longer have to wait in long queues to finalize documentation such as visa stamps, customs, and health screenings.
“All these will be sorted out in KLIA, and when our (Malaysian) pilgrims arrive (in Madinah), they can just take the bus to the hotel. Their luggage will be managed by the Saudi authorities,” Dr. Yusuf added.
A world first, the initiative has been made possible by multi-agency collaboration within Saudi Arabia, as well as weeks of preparation by officials in the Kingdom, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Makkah Road Initiative will cut time and entrance procedures for pilgrims from Malaysia and Indonesia to Saudi Arabia through a “unified electronic paths” and “pre-clearance procedures” before arrival at Madinah airport, according to officials.
The services provided under the initiative include issuing visas, customs and passport procedures, facilitating health requirements, baggage management, and housing arrangements in Makkah.
The initiative also involves checking off the pilgrims’ entry visas into the Kingdom at the airport when the flight departs. Travel arrangements will be “confirmed electronically”, including health requirements where pilgrims can skip the paper documents on vaccines at the airport in their own country.
Fingerprints and passports are to be taken and stamped “electronically” in their home country before departure. Pilgrims will fly from either the Kuala Lumpur International Airport or the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, and will arrive at the Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz in Madinah.
The pilgrims will check out at the airport arrival hall “like a domestic flight” while their luggage will be sorted to their places of residence by the Ministry of Hajj.
With an increasing number of Muslim pilgrims to Makkah each year, the Saudi Arabian government has made serious efforts to streamline the process.
“We really appreciate this progress by the Kingdom,” said Zainol Rahim Zainuddin, Malaysian ambassador to the Kingdom, adding that the initiative showcased the close partnership between the governments of the Kingdom and Malaysia.
Indonesia, which has the biggest Muslim population in the world, had 221,000 of pilgrims arriving in Makkah last year. Malaysia, a Muslim majority nation, increased its number of pilgrims to 31,300 in 2017 from an initial projection of 30,200.
The Makkah Road Initiative is part of the National Transition Programs (2020). It aims to fulfil the Vision 2030 objective of having well-developed public services and infrastructure throughout the Kingdom.