Hulu Langat (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A primary school in Selangor has come under fire for segregating drinking cups for Muslim and non-Muslim students.
The school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Puteri, in Hulu Langat has cups labelled "murid Islam" (Muslim students) and "murid bukan Islam" (non-Muslim students) placed next to a water dispenser, this according to Malaysian media reports.
A school canteen operator said the labelled cups have been used since last year, under the previous school principal who has since been transferred, Free Malaysia Today reported.
School administrotrs have refused to comment, but the authorities, parents and netizens have criticised the school.
For Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria, the practice was discriminatory and could lead to hatred of Islam.
"This should not have happened,” he explained. “We should know the ruling. Don't be too rigid that others would begin despising us. Islam pays importance to human relations.”
The mufti noted that there is no basis for separate utensils even if Islam prohibits its followers from consuming certain kinds of food. "Even if one consumes pork, that does not mean his lips are unclean.”
"We can use cups used by non-Muslims. We can use cooking utensils used by non-Muslims," he added. "This practice is an insult. Don't do it."
Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon stressed that "national schools are for all Malaysians and should not separate our children based on religion”. He also noted that he will direct the Selangor Education Department to check on the matter.
Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) founder Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the school should reverse the ruling.
"If there are certain quarters who have an issue with it (drinking from cups used by others), they can ask their children to bring their own cups and drinks.”
For Noor Azimah, imposing one's religious values on others is not the way forward, especially for children.
The Religious Harmony Bureau of the Malaysian Chinese Association called on the Education Ministry to immediately order the school to stop the practice.
Its chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker said the current head or administrator of the school must apologise to all students and parents for the "discriminatory" practice.
"Schoolchildren do not know racism,” he noted. “Such prejudices are inculcated by adults during a child's formative years. If necessary, suspend the former principal from all duties that involve interaction with the public.”