PM and wife’s personal ties a big help
Sunday February 6
KUALA LUMPUR: The Saudi Arabian government has granted unlimited flight access to Malaysia to airlift its citizens from Egypt to Jeddah – a rare move made possible due to the close personal relationship between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor with the Saudi Royal House.
“I am very happy with the Saudi authorities for granting us all sorts of special concessions in the airlifting of our citizens,” said Najib in an interview here yesterday. “They have told us that we can mount as many flights as we need in the rescue mission.
“This is a rare privilege, mostly because of the close personal ties my wife and I have with King Abdullah Abdul Aziz and his family,” he added.
The Saudi government had granted blanket visas to all those evacuated from Egypt as well as landing rights for the eight RMAF, Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia aircraft taking part in the evacuation exercise.
Najib said that when faced with such a crisis, it was diplomatically acceptable for both private and official channels to be used to ensure the rescue operation was successful.
“It is fortunate that we enjoy such a good relationship with the Saudi royal family. I was actually awakened at 2.30am on Thursday by a call from Saudi Arabia confirming the various special concessions for our airlift.
“I think it takes a very special friendship to work until so late to solve someone else’s problem and then to call someone at that hour to tell them about the blanket approval.”
Rosmah said she had also made some calls because she could not stand by and watch the students suffer “as some of them had nothing to eat”.
“As a mother, how could I not act? I feel for all the mothers whose children are studying there. I am glad I could help.
“Some of the Malaysian officials, aware of my Saudi connections, also asked me to assist. My husband was busy so that was why I helped,” she said.
“I could not afford to take any risk by waiting as every minute matters in a situation like this. Waiting a minute could cost lives. That’s why I made the call to the Saudis,” she said.
“Of course, I reported to him (Najib) what I did later.” - The Star
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