20 August 2013

The government will evacuate Malaysian students in Egypt starting from tonight, following reports of growing security risks in the area, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.

He said a team from Malaysia’s national security council in Cairo found that the situation is becoming more uncertain, and advised for evacuation to begin immediately.

“From tonight, we will be booking tickets on commercial flights via Oman and Istanbul, among other destinations, to bring our students home,” Najib said at a press conference at the Hari Raya open house of chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa today.

The prime minister said the government is finalising logistics to transfer the students who had volunteered to be sent home, and expects it to take several days to evacuate them should all 3,300 Malaysian students choose to return to Malaysia.

He noted that the government chose to use only commercial flights as it would be too expensive to use the military’s fleet of Hercules C130 transport planes as they are only designed for short haul flights and would require additional clearance from other countries to refuel.

Najib said he has also instructed his deputy and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, to get in touch with the Al-Azhar University in Cairo to work out a new schedule for Malaysian students to sit for their exams.

He added that Malaysia may consider the possibility of working with the university to open a campus here, considering this is the second time in as many years that students have been flown back due to civil unrest.

“We are still thinking about it. Al-Azhar University is a renowned university in terms of Islamic studies, so maybe we can look at opening a Malaysia campus, among other alternatives,” he said.


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