KUALA LUMPUR: Saudi Arabia has become Malaysia’s largest single contributor of pandemic assistance, Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Friday, as he received medical supplies brought to the Southeast Asian country through a special humanitarian air bridge established by King Salman.
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Malaysia has become one of the world’s worst.
Despite implementing multiple restrictions and a state of emergency, the country has been struggling in recent weeks to tame a surge in cases.
The Saudi aid, worth $5 million and comprising vaccine doses and medical equipment, was brought to Kuala Lumpur by the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid (KSrelief) on Thursday, just days after the king’s directive to open the air bridge following a request for help from Hussein.
The equipment and vaccines were handed over to the Malaysian government by the Saudi ambassador on Friday.
“On behalf of Malaysia, I extend our deepest appreciation and gratitude,” Hussein said in a statement. “With this most recent contribution, Saudi Arabia is the single largest contributor of COVID-19 assistance to Malaysia.
“His Majesty King Salman’s continued regard for Malaysia, as well as efforts by the government of Saudi Arabia in executing His Majesty’s royal decree proves Saudi Arabia’s sincerity and their resolve to stand with Malaysia during this challenging pandemic.”
It is not the first time Saudi Arabia has helped Malaysia with COVID-19 assistance. In May 2020, the Kingdom was one of the first countries to extend its help.
Among the 4.5 million units of medical supplies delivered by KSrelief were ventilators, oxygen concentrators, defibrillators and protective gear, as well as 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which will support the immunization drive of the country that has so far vaccinated just 18 percent of its 32 million population. The aid is also widely seen as an indication of the strengthening of ties between Riyadh and Kuala Lumpur.
“It is a great honor and it reflects Saudi Arabia’s sincerity in forging a friendship with Malaysia,” Dr. Khoo Yoong Khean, healthcare administrator and managing editor of the Malaysian Medical Gazette, told Arab News.
He added the help will be of great assistance in addressing the country’s current COVID-19 response.
According to geopolitics expert Prof. Azmi Hassan of the Technology University of Malaysia, the humanitarian assistance comes amid rapidly improving Saudi-Malaysian relations, since Hussein took office as foreign minister last year.
“That is a good sign that the relationship is back on track,” he told Arab News. “This is not only good for the country but for the Muslim community across the world.”