SINGAPORE - Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said on Sunday (Jan 28) that he is optimistic Saudi Arabia will give Singapore a fair hearing regarding its haj quota request.
Speaking at the sidelines of a Mendaki event, Dr Yaacob also pointed to the warm relations between the two countries and the law-abiding behaviour of Singaporean pilgrims.
The haj is the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. The huge numbers of people wanting to go from across the world mean the Saudi government must impose national quotas to maintain safety.
In February 2017, the number of haj places for pilgrims from Singapore was increased from 680 to 800.
Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information, talked with Saudi Arabian Haj Minister Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten at the annual Haj Ministerial Meeting in Saudi Arabia last week.
"We have impressed upon him the things that we need in terms of our quota, and he understands where we are coming from," said Dr Yaacob, who added that Singapore has put in a haj quota request, but he did not reveal the number.
He said he told Dr Saleh Benten that there is a "very long waiting period and the number is increasing as a lot more Malay Muslims in Singapore are keen to do their haj".
"I think he is very keen to help us as much as possible," said Dr Yaacob, who was speaking at the sidelines of a Mendaki fund-raising event.
Haj quotas were reduced worldwide by 20 per cent in 2013 due to construction works near the Holy Mosque in Mecca.
This year's haj will take place in August and September.