Man attempting to swim from Malaysia to Saudi Arabia’s Mecca arrested, placed in psychiatric ward

A 28-year-old man has been placed in a psychiatric ward after being rescued at sea, in what was his second swimming attempt to reach Mecca in two weeks.

Malaysian authorities rescued the man after he was found floating at sea after reportedly attempting to swim from the northern island of Penang to the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The man jumped into the sea from Penang’s Tanjung City Marina, in what was his second attempt at a perilous long-distance swim in two weeks, according to police who said he was now been admitted to a psychiatric ward.

“At about 4.55 pm [Monday], the Beach Street police station received a call from a member of the public that a man was found floating in the sea near the Tanjung City Marina jetty,” North-east district police chief ACP Soffian Santong was quoted by the Malay Mail as saying.

Footage of the man floating at sea went viral on social media.

Police investigations revealed that the man had been previously detained on 12 July when he attempted to swim to another part of Penang Island from the Tanjung City Marina. It happened after he was barred from boarding a ferry due to coronavirus travel restrictions

“This time, his excuse was that he wants to swim to the holy land of Mecca,” Soffian said, referring to the latest incident.

The man, who returned a negative result after a drugs test, was later placed in a psychiatric ward for treatment.