Early preparation by Muis to efficiently allocate additional Haj places
10 April 2023
1. The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) has developed an automated system to quickly and efficiently allocate any extra places offered for Haj for Singaporean pilgrims. The new system utilises balloting, which is also used by many other countries to determine allocation of places for Haj, to supplement the existing Advance Haj Registration System (AHRS).
Additional Haj Quota
2. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) allocates 900 places for Singaporean pilgrims to perform the Haj every year. In addition, KSA also has the discretion to allocate additional places to each country. KSA will consider all necessary factors and allocate additional places normally from the month of Syawal onwards every year. However, pilgrims who take up the additional quota face the challenge of limited options available, in terms of accommodation, flight and logistics, and invariably higher prices, due to the proximity to the Haj season.
Haj 2022 Experience
3. For Haj 2022, Singapore was granted 493 additional Haj places one week from the scheduled first pilgrims’ departure to the KSA. This meant that Muis, which runs the Advance Haj Registration System (AHRS), had to reach out to nearly 4,000 applicants in the AHRS queue to fill up the given haj places within three working days. During the allocation process, Muis noted that a significant number of applicants in the queue were not ready (either physically, mentally, spiritually and financially) to perform Haj given the short notice. Thus they were not able to accept the offer for the additional quota.
4. Learning from this experience, Muis has developed a system to quickly and efficiently allocate any additional places which may be given by the KSA, while giving advance notice to prospective eligible pilgrims to be ready if they are willing and able to perform Haj.
Limited Balloting Scheme
5. The Limited Balloting Scheme (LBS) is designed to be a fair, efficient and transparent process to fill up the additional haj places within limited and short duration of time. The scheme will be integrated with MyHajSG1, the interface for the current AHRS’ applicants. The balloting matrix will be computerised and automated designed to manage any complex and specific pre-requisites set by KSA for the current Haj season.
6. Any pilgrims going for Haj must meet KSA’s criteria, set annually, which may include age and health requirements.
7. Muis will invite applicants who meet these criteria, and who would be performing haj for the first time and have registered in the AHRS between 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2017. Repeaters2 are not eligible to register for the additional places offered through this balloting exercise.
8. As of April 2023, there are a total of 48,000 in the AHRS. Based on the qualifying criteria, approximately 20,000 are eligible for the LBS.
9. Muis will reach to all eligible applicants via SMS and email, inviting them to register for the balloting exercise within a stipulated timeline. Thus, eligible applicants are advised to update their contact details through the MyHajSG portal if they are interested to participate in the balloting exercise for any additional quota.
10. During registration, applicants will be given an option to register on individual or group basis. For group registration, there should not be more than 5 applicants in a group. Given that it is a balloting exercise, applicants need not rush to register.
11. Each individual applicant will pay $100.00 every time the LBS is offered. The fee collected is a charge to defray the one-time registration cost, including processing the application, and performing the balloting process, and is also a commitment by the prospective pilgrim to be ready to perform the Haj if given the opportunity.
12. Given the current economic condition, as we are still recovering from the pandemic, Muis will subsidise the application fee for the next two years. Applicants in 2023 need only pay $50.00, and applicants in 2024 need only pay $75.00.
13. Collated applications will be subjected to verification checks on the eligibility of applicants before commencement of the balloting process. The onus will be on the applicant to ensure that he meets the necessary criteria before applying for the LBS.
14. The Pilgrimage Committee, chaired by Dr Syed Harun Taha Alhabsyi will oversee the computer-generated allocation of successful balloted applicants. The balloting process will be witnessed by an independent witness appointed by Muis.
15. Counter-verification checks on the balloting results will be conducted before issuing the Letter of Offer to the successful applicants.
16. The LBS will enable quick, fair and transparent allocation of any additional places which are allocated by KSA for any Haj. This will minimise delays in the confirmation of arrangements by prospective pilgrims, whatever the proximity to the Haj season.
17. Muis hopes that the Limited Balloting Scheme will help ease the anxieties of prospective pilgrims who are physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially ready to perform Haj, but who face a long waiting time due to the huge number in the AHRS queue.
18. Muis’ advice is for eligible applicants who are in the AHRS to carefully consider all factors (short notice, limited options, higher cost) and decide if they would like to commit to accept any extra places offered this year. If so, they should indicate their willingness to be considered through the LBS, and then make the necessary preparations should they be allocated a place this year.
MAJLIS UGAMA ISLAM SINGAPURA
1 Refer to the new Haj registration portal launched on 21 Feb 2023.
2 Refer to applicants who have performed their haj previously.