Mr Abdul Samad: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs in light of haj pilgrimage cancellations for 2020 and 2021 (a) what is the total number of applicants who are in line to perform the haj in the coming years; (b) how many of these applicants are first-timers, broken down by age groups; and (c) whether there will be an increase in the number of pilgrims in view of the two years of missed pilgrimages.
Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs & Minister for Social and Family Development:
- Currently, there are about 38,000 applicants who have registered with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) to perform Haj in the coming years. Out of this group, there are approximately 34,500 first-time applicants, of which (a) 7,500 applicants are 40 years old and below, (b) 18,000 applicants are between the ages of 41 and 60 years old, and (c) 9,000 applicants are 61 years old and above.
- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has yet to announce the status and arrangements for Haj 2022 and beyond. Since the onset of COVID-19, the KSA has restricted Haj to a limited number of pilgrims who were citizens and residents within the KSA. With the deferment of international Haj in the past two years, Singapore has been reiterating its requests to the Ministry for Haj and Umrah in the KSA for additional Haj places, beyond the official quota allocated to Singapore, so that more Singaporean pilgrims will be able to perform the Haj when it resumes for international pilgrims.
- Should Haj be allowed for international pilgrims in 2022, MUIS, in consultation with our Ministry of Health, will assess the prevailing public health situation in Singapore and around the world, and the health risks of sending a delegation. Our priority will be to safeguard the health and well-being of our Singapore pilgrims and our community in Singapore.