KUALA LUMPUR: The operation to airlift Malaysians out of Egypt is a fine example of a joint effort between the private and public sectors in the face of a national emergency, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Expressing his happiness over the entire exercise, the Prime Minister said as of yesterday evening, about 10,300 were evacuated to Jeddah.
The first batch of students will return home tomorrow morning aboard a Malaysia Airlines special flight.
“This is a national effort under the principle of total defence. We were able to deploy our national assets, from both the private and public sector, under the co-ordination and supervision of the Government to get the students out of Egypt,” he said in an interview here yesterday.
Three RMAF C-130 aircraft, two MAS B747 jets and three AirAsia Airbus comprising an A320, A330 and A340 aircraft have been deployed in the country’s biggest airlift of its citizens from a foreign hotspot.
A Royal Malaysian Navy auxiliary ship KD Bunga Mas 3 has also been diverted to Egypt to help in the rescue mission.
“I am extremely pleased with AirAsia and MAS for pulling out their aircraft from their flight schedules to take part in this mission,” said Najib.
On the number of Malaysians in Egypt, he said the Government’s figure of 11,319 students did not include those who were there for holidays or business and did not register themselves with the embassy there.
“The final figure could be around 13,000 but we are confident that we can complete the airlift by Tuesday,” he added.
MAS director of operations Captain Mohamed Azharuddin Osman said 454 of the evacuees will be brought home from Jeddah tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister A. Kohilan Pillay said some of the Malaysian reporters in Egypt were stopped at several checkpoints because they were out during the curfew.
However, they were released after a few hours, he said when contacted yesterday.
Source : The Star