Thai-Muslims prepare to leave for the hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Samut Prakan in June. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
The Bhumjaithai Party’s working panel on the deep South will ask the party to sponsor a bill to avoid Thai pilgrims performing hajj from being stranded abroad due to irregularities at home.
More than 500 Thai pilgrims from Yala were left to fend for themselves after arriving in Saudi Arabia during the recent hajj, despite paying more than 270,000 baht each for the trip.
Nujmuddin Uma, a former MP for Narathiwat, said the panel has agreed to push for an amendment to the Hajj Affairs Promotion Act to help address future problems.
Reports about Thai pilgrims being left stranded are heard every year, but this year’s incident involving 500 pilgrims caused widespread damage, he said.
It’s time the problem was addressed.
Under the panel’s proposed bill, hajj trips will be supervised by a public organisation with government funding and backing, he said.
The bill seeks to set up a national committee on hajj affairs to be chaired by the prime minister, with high-ranking officials from various agencies and Muslim scholars serving as members, he said.
There will also be a hajj affairs team in charge of the hajj mission and an office of hajj affairs, he said.
Regarding the stranded pilgrims, Deputy Interior Minister Naris Khamnurak has ordered the Department of Provincial Administration (Dopa)’s hajj affairs promotion division to provide assistance and ensure all hajj tour organisers are financially sound and won’t leave people in the lurch.
He also urged Dopa to work with agencies concerned to address high airfares as a hajj package can cost about 250,000 baht on average for a 40-day trip.
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