KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is not sending Hajj pilgrims to Makkah this year in light of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s Hajj starts around July 28 and the country was due to send about 31,600 pilgrims.
The decision to cancel was based on consultations with the Health Ministry of Malaysia and the Malaysian Hajj Pilgrims’ Fund Board (Tabung Haji), as well as with members of a special meeting of the Committee of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs Malaysia that took place on June 9.
“The pilgrimage for all Malaysians for the Hajj season of Hijrah 1441 is postponed to next year,” Dr. Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, a minister in the prime minister’s office, said on Thursday at a press conference.
Al-Bakri said that the Hajj postponement to 2021 was made after taking into consideration the safety, health and well-being of Malaysians. Those with a furada visa — a Hajj visa obtained directly from Saudi Arabia’s embassy — were also not allowed to go for Hajj this year.
The pandemic has caused a serious global health crisis. Coronavirus has infected 7.4 million people worldwide and resulted in more than 418,000 deaths.
“Yesterday I invited and met with the Saudi Ambassador to Malaysia and handed the official letter of Hajj postponement for Malaysia to be presented to Dr. Mohammed Saleh bin Taher Benten, minister of Hajj and Umrah for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Malaysia has followed its Southeast Asia neighbors Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand and Brunei in canceling the Hajj pilgrimage for this year.
Malaysia has taken strict measures in curbing the spread of coronavirus, including enacting the Movement Control Order since March 16 and conducting mass testings for COVID-19 among migrant workers and refugees.
As a result Malaysia has managed to reduce new cases. It currently has a total of 8,369 cases, of which 7,065 have recovered.
Malaysia has gradually allowed most businesses and places of worship, including mosques, to open with strict observations of social distancing measures and guidelines.