A total of 670 personnel will be flown to Saudi Arabia in stages for the smooth-running of this year’s hajj operations, says Tabung Haji (TH) hajj executive director Datuk Seri Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman.

He said of the total number of personnel, 340 were welfare workers, 296 were medical staff and 34 were from external agencies such as the National Registration Department, Social Welfare Department and the local media.

“The personnel will depart stages through a series of flights during the first phase of this year’s hajj operation,” he told reporters at the ceremony to send off 160 hajj personnel including media practitioners here today.

In a separate development, Syed Saleh said TH was still waiting for a decision from the government of Saudi Arabia regarding the request for an additional 10,000 quota for Malaysian pilgrims this year.

“That (additional quota appeal) is up to the government of Saudi Arabia. They have a committee to look at the applications and at the same time, they also look at other aspects such as facilities, infrastructure and so on.

“We are uncertain as to when they will reply to us, so far there is no decision on the additional quota,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) editor, Kamarul Irwan Alias described his selection as a media officer for this year’s hajj season as a blessing and promised to provide the best coverage.

“Supposedly under TH’s hajj registration and queue system, my turn was in 2109. When executive editor Harlina Samson informed me that I had been selected to cover this year’s hajj operations, it was something I was really looking forward to,” said the father of two.

Kamarul Irwan said he and 12 other local media personnel were expected to be there until July 10.

The first flight ferrying local pilgrims will take off on May 21, while the last return flight will be on Aug 1.

This year, the Wukuf day (9th Zulhijjah based on Hijri calendar) is expected to fall on Tuesday, June 27.

A total of 98 special chartered flights will be used to carry all Malaysian pilgrims involving Malaysia Airlines and Saudia Airlines.

Eight departure stations will be used for self-reporting by pilgrims throughout Malaysia, including Kota Bharu, Kelantan; Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu; Alor Setar, Kedah; Bayan Lepas, Penang; Senai, Johor; Kuching, Sarawak; Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency