By Muammar Eusouffi Zainoal Abidin and Mujahid Ishak
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 -- The granting of compensation to pilgrims who perished or injured in the Makkah crane collapse case in 2015 is proof of King of Saudi Arabia King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s concern about the wellbeing of the victims and their families, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Malaysia Datuk Dr Mahmoud Hussien Saeed Qattan said.
In fact, he said that although the construction company responsible for the upgrading work taking place at the Grand Mosque during the time of the incident was found not guilty and was not required to pay any compensation to the victims, King Salman took it upon himself to personally provide an allocation as compensation to the victims and their families.
On the day the tragic incident occurred after the Asar prayer on Sept 11, 2015, Mahmoud Hussein said King Salman rushed to the scene and ordered for an immediate investigation to be carried out to expedite the distribution of the compensation.
“His Majesty King Salman has closely monitored the development of the case, from the commencement of the investigation right to the distribution of compensation to the victims from all the countries involved.
“Saudi Arabia has always put the services to Islam and Muslims as its top priorities and the two Holy cities of Makkah and Madinah are the most important locations for haj pilgrimage,” he said in a special interview with Bernama at the Saudi Arabian Embassy here today.
Elaborating, Mahmoud Hussien said King Salman is always proud being the custodian of the two holy cities and is of the opinion that the title came with a huge responsibility in Islam, both at national and international levels.
The ambassador said the compensation would be channeled through the Malaysian Government, with the aim to alleviate the burden of the victims and families who lost their loved ones in the tragedy.
Seven families of the deceased victims will receive SAR 1 million (equivalent to RM1.17 million) each, while three injured victims would receive SAR 500,000 (RM587,574) each.
On the effectiveness of Tabung Haji (TH) in managing the Malaysian haj pilgrims, Mahmoud Hussien said TH had always been the exemplary benchmark for other countries in haj operations and pilgrim management.
“I know that several Muslim countries have been in contact with Malaysia to learn about TH’s experience and expertise in managing all aspects related to haj pilgrimage.
“This is indeed a positive development...I do hope that the cooperation between TH and the Saudi Arabian Embassy here can be preserved and strengthened so as to give the best haj services to the pilgrims,” he said.
The ambassador, who has been serving in Malaysia since February 2017, also expressed hope that TH will continue to progress in its investment and development of haj management in the future.
On the Saudi Arabian government’s preparations for this year’s haj season, Mahmoud Hussien said the preparations had begun a day after the last year’s haj season ended.
“Several development projects in Makkah and Madinah have also been completed ahead of this year’s haj season to ensure that only the best services would be rendered to the pilgrims,” he added.