Home Ministry commits to ensuring Makkah Route initiative runs smoothly

Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail says his ministry is committed to ensuring the affairs of Malaysians who perform the Hajj pilgrimage under the Makkah Route run smoothly. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 31, 2023.

THE Home Ministry, through the Immigration Department, is committed to ensuring the affairs of Malaysians who perform the Hajj pilgrimage under the Makkah Route run smoothly.  

“There should not be hiccups, shortage of staff and system breakdowns. That is the commitment that the Immigration Department is giving,” he told the media after inspecting the Hajj Pilgrims Special Counter at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) today.  

Under the Makkah Route initiative, a Saudi Arabian Immigration and Customs team will be at KLIA to check pilgrims’ passports, and upon arrival at the Madinah or Jeddah airport, Malaysian pilgrims no longer have to wait for the Immigration and Customs process. 

Expressing satisfaction with how the Malaysian and Saudi Arabian Immigration teams were running matters smoothly, Saifuiddin said: “I noticed that the process (documentation matters) took less than 30 seconds. I also visited 10 counters handled by Saudi Arabian Immigration, the process was also very fast.” 

In another development, Saifuddin said Swiss watchmaker Swatch has yet to contact the Home Ministry with regard to the seizure of its “Pride Collection” timepieces.  

  Saifuddin said the watches were widely promoted at the end of last year and during the promotion, it was very clear that the models released were closely related to LGBT, which refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.  

“As a regulatory agency we know this issue is sensitive (and) our actions cannot satisfy all parties,” he said. 

On May 13 and 14, the ministry was reported to have raided 11 Swatch outlets located in shopping centres such as Pavilion KL, 1 Utama, Sunway Pyramid, Mid Valley Megamall, and Suria Sabah over the brand’s “Pride Collection”. 

Five outlets at shopping centres in Alor Setar, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Bharu, Johor Bharu and Kuching were let off with warnings. 

Swatch Group chief executive officer Nick Hayek was reported to have said the watches seized by the ministry did not contain any reference to LGBT.

On another matter, Saifuddin declined to confirm media reports that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, was currently under house arrest in Shanghai. 

“We (KDN) are aware, that should be sufficient for any future matters, however, this (Jho Low’s whereabouts) is not coming from me,” he said.  

Media reports have quoted Bradley Hope, the co-author of “Billion Dollar Whale”, as claiming that Jho Low is believed to be under house arrest in Shanghai. – Bernama, May 31, 2023.  

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