M'sian students are safe in Egypt

KUALA LUMPUR - All 3,300 Malaysian students now in Egypt are safe despite the ongoing conflict there, said Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

The Defence Minister assured parents that the Government had finalised evacuation plans - which can be executed in three days - as all the relevant agencies and ministries would work together to ensure the students' safety.

"Wisma Putra and National Security Council officers over there will decide if there is a need to bring them home.

"If the airport is open, we will use commercial flights. If it isn't, then the Defence Ministry will come in," he told reporters after chairing a meeting on the situation at the ministry's headquarters here yesterday.

Hishammuddin said Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia were ready to assist with evacuation efforts while the Royal Malaysian Air Force would provide help if necessary.

He reminded the students there to obey the directives issued by the Malaysian embassy and stressed that they must not participate in any of the demonstrations.

Hishammuddin warned private agents not to take advantage of the situation and fly students there as the Education Ministry had issued a circular advising new students not to go to Egypt for their studies at the moment.

He urged parents not to worry that their children would not be able to secure places for medical courses if they postponed registration, adding that the ministry would hold discussions with the universities there, to ensure their places would not be affected.

At 6pm local time yesterday, Education Malaysia Egypt's (EME) education counsellor/director Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Su'aidi Safei announced on its Facebook page that examinations that medical students need to re-sit will be postponed until September.

Dr Su'aidi said he spoke to Egypt's Deputy Higher Education Minister Prof Dr Mohamed Samir Hamza about the reasons to postpone the examinations.

This decision applies to all six universities - Kaherah, Ain Shams, Alexandria, Zagazig, Mansoura and Tanta - under the ministry while Al-Azhar University has also agreed to the postponement.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman has advised all Malaysians to defer and reschedule all non-essential travel to Egypt.

He said the Malaysian embassy in Cairo had advised Malaysians there to follow the security guidelines issued by Egyptian authorities as well as the embassy's instructions to avoid conflict-ridden areas.

"Returning Malaysian students are advised to check and confirm with their respective universities whether there will be any changes on the starting date of their academic year before flying back to Egypt," he said.