YANGON - Nautical Aliya has set off for Bangladesh with aid for the Rohingya even as a team from Malaysia heads to Dhaka for last-minute negotiations for its entry into the country.
The ship, with 2,100 tonnes of aid and nearly 200 volunteers from various countries, left Yangon port yesterday, already late by a day.
The five-man team is led by two Members of Parliament - Umno's Kulim Bandar Bahru MP Datuk Abd Aziz Sheikh Fadzir and PAS' Bachok MP Ahmad Marzuk Shaary.
They are expected to meet Malaysian High Commission officials in Dhaka today.
"We are representing the 222 MPs and 30 million Malaysians in our commitment to help the needy," Abd Aziz said on board the ship.
The mission, he said, would discuss logistics with Bangladesh and seek its permission for the mission's volunteers to get off the ship.
The other three members of the team are Abd Aziz's assistant and two members of Kelab Putera 1Malaysia.
Bangladesh has refused to allow the ship to dock in Teknaf, which is near some Rohingya refugee camps.
It has offered Chittagong - 200km north of Teknaf - as one of three alternatives and is also not allowing volunteers to leave the ship or visit the camps.
Abd Aziz said both he and Ahmad hoped to go to Chittagong after the meeting with government officials.
"We are united in this as it is a bipartisan effort," they said.
Both Umno and PAS politicians attended a December rally together on alleged human rights abuses faced by Myanmar's Rohingya.
Mission organisers thanked Myanmar for allowing them to drop the cargo at Thilawa Port in Yangon over the past two days.
He said about 222 tonnes of cargo which included an extra 12,000 mineral water bottles was unloaded at the port .
This cargo will make its way to Sittwe - likely by barge - and be distributed to the Rohingya in the area.
Organiser co-chief Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim commended Myanmar for its help.
"From the time we entered Myanmar waters to the port, they made sure that we were all safe.
"They have been very kind and helpful. We expect something better in Bangladesh, a Muslim country," he told reporters.