STRAITS OF MALACCA - Organisers of the aid ship going to Myanmar and Bangladesh have finally been given approval to dock at Bangladesh's Teknaf port.
The organisers were earlier informed that the Nautical Aliya ship would not be allowed to berth at the port.
Lead organiser Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim said he was given the good news by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman just after midnight Saturday.
"We were already on board when we were told that the entry to Teknaf was declined.
"But yesterday the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri) Najib (Tun Razak) said don't worry, the government of Bangladesh will allow us in," Azeez, who is also the Kelab Putera 1Malaysia president, told reporters.
The Nautical Aliya was 40km off the coast of Sekinchan as at noon yesterday.
It is carrying about 2,300 tonnes of aid and other supplies meant for Myanmar's Rohingya, who have faced alleged human rights abuses in recent years.
The ship, on a mission its organisers are calling "Food Flotilla for Myanmar," is also carrying 195 volunteers and 15 crew members.
It set sail from Port Klang on Friday afternoon, but only left the area's waters at about 7am yesterday after picking up more cargo.
The Malaysian Foreign Ministry confirmed that the mission had been given the green light to dock at Teknaf port, following a meeting between the Malaysian Foreign Minister and High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Malaysia Md Shahidul Islam.
The ministry, in a statement, said the matter was resolved as a result of the good relations between the two countries.
"The Government of Malaysia expresses its appreciation to the Government of Bangladesh for its willingness to allow the Food Flotilla to provide humanitarian aid to the Rohingya refugees around Teknaf port," it said yesterday.
Malaysian Islamic Organisations Consultative Council president Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid said he appreciated both Myanmar and Bangladesh's approval to allow the ship to enter their waters.
"We are so happy that both governments have given permission to enter their countries," he said.
The ship is expected to enter Myanmar's Yangon port area on Feb 8.
It will spend about a day there before heading to Bangladesh to drop off aid at several Rohingya refugee camps there.