Malaysian students bracing for the worst in Egypt

PETALING JAYA - Malaysian students in Egypt are bracing for the worst by stocking up on food and staying indoors due to a mass rally demanding the resignation of the country's President Mohamed Morsi.

Zagazig University's fifth-year medical student Syamsuddin Faruok, 24, said his university was closed yesterday and today as a safety precaution.

"We were also informed by the Malaysian Embassy in Cairo to stock up on food and withdraw enough cash. This is just in case the shops are closed the next few days and prices of goods shoot up like it did during the last rally on Jan 25, 2011.

"You can say that we are somehow prepared for the worst. I have enough food for about five days or so," said Syamsuddin yesterday.

Syamsuddin, who is in Zagazig, an hour-and-a-half drive from Cairo, said he hoped that the rally would not "drag on for too long" as this could affect his examinations scheduled for this week.

"The fasting month starts in nine days. It is a month when we go for prayers at night and we still have classes," he said, adding that it would be "hard to get around".

It was reported that Egyptians and the security forces were prepared for the demonstrations, which came two years after a similar mass gathering toppled Hosni Mubarak as president.

Protesters in Tahrir Square had called for Morsi to be ousted or they would sit there until he goes.

Another fifth-year medical student Intan Nur Atiqah Mohamad Yunus, 23, said she bought enough food to last for a week.

"I have also told my family about what is happening and updated my personal details with the embassy and student council," she said, adding that she faced some difficulties withdrawing money because of the long queues as most ATMs were either out of service or had limited withdrawals.

She said she had even packed her important documents in case she needed to move.

Ambassador to Egypt Datuk Dr Mohd Fakhrudin Abdul Mukti said all Malaysian students and citizens were told to follow the safety guidelines since Friday.

"We have deployed about 30 officers, including from agencies such as the Public Service Department and Mara, to meet Malaysians at various locations such as Tanta and Zagazig," he said.

According to the embassy's records, he said there were 11,400 Malaysians, mostly students, in Egypt.

"We have asked them to report to us any untoward incident so that we can advise them to move to a safer location," he said.