Minister: Increase in Hajj quota may help pilgrims on wait list, but safety is paramount

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim speaking to former MP Wan Hussin Zoohri at Changi Airport on Sep 26, 2014, before the latter’s departure to Mecca. An increase in the Hajj quota would help the many Singaporeans on the waiting lis
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim speaking to former MP Wan Hussin Zoohri at Changi Airport on Sep 26, 2014, before the latter’s departure to Mecca. An increase in the Hajj quota would help the many Singaporeans on the waiting list to perform the Muslim pilgrimage - however their safety, welfare and security are still paramount, Dr Yaacob said in a Facebook post on Friday evening. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - An increase in the Hajj quota would help the many Singaporeans on the waiting list to perform the Muslim pilgrimage - however their safety, welfare and security are still paramount, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said in a Facebook post on Friday evening.

It came after his meeting on Thursday with Saudi Arabia's Hajj Minister, His Excellency Dr Bandar Bin Mohamed Al-Hajjar, to discuss arrangements for the upcoming Muslim pilgrimage in September.

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"We discussed many issues including the Hajj quota. I conveyed to the Hajj Minister that there are many Singaporeans who are currently on the waiting list to perform the Hajj and an increase in quota would help improve the situation," Dr Yaacob wrote. "During the discussions, both of us agreed that the safety, welfare and security of the Hajj pilgrims must be given utmost priority."

Singapore's official Hajj quota is 680, according to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. In 2013, about 8,000 people were on the waiting list.

Past pilgrimages have faced problems such as overcrowding and Saudi Arabia has reduced the number of places to allow for expansion work at the Holy City of Mecca's Grand Mosque.

Dr Yaacob expressed his appreciation on behalf of the Singapore Government to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for making the necessary arrangements to welcome Singaporean pilgrims.

In Friday's post, which attracted 52 likes in two hours, Dr Yaacob also said that he had on Thursday night met His Excellency Dr Yusuf Ahmed Al Hawala, the Chairman of the Guidance office for pilgrims' stay in Madinah.

Dr Yaacob added: "His Excellency gave me his assurance that our pilgrims for the upcoming Hajj season would continue to be received warmly by the Adillah. I am grateful for the assistance rendered to our pilgrims and thanked His Excellency for his kindness and hospitality."