NEW TASK FORCE

It com­prises lo­cal coun­cils, min­is­ters and other rel­e­vant author­i­ties

New Straits Times - - News / Story Of The Day -

KUALA LUMPUR

DEPUTY Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Dr Ah­mad Zahid Hamidi said sug­ges­tions and rec­om­men­da­tions sub­mit­ted by the Royal Com­mis­sion of In­quiry (RCI) set up to in­ves­ti­gate the fire that killed 27 stu­dents of Seko­lah Agama Rakyat Tau­fikiah Khairiah Al-Hal­im­iah, also known as Pon­dok Pak Ya in Yan, Kedah, in 1989, were not im­ple­mented.

He said the spe­cial task force set up to in­ves­ti­gate the fire at Darul Qu­ran It­ti­faqiyah tah­fiz school (DQIT) would re­visit sug­ges­tions and rec­om­men­da­tions by the RCI on safety re­quire­ments for re­li­gious schools.

Zahid, who is also home min­is­ter, said fires at tah­fiz and re­li­gious schools harmed the rep­u­ta­tion of the na­tion’s ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, as well as the im­age of Is­lamic ed­u­ca­tion.

“Such in­ci­dents give a bad im­age to lo­cal coun­cils and en­force­ment agen­cies that is­sue com­pul­sory guide­lines to tah­fiz and re­li­gious schools,” he said after at­tend­ing a Na­tional Trans­for­ma­tion 2050 (TN50) di­a­logue on safety and se­cu­rity at De­wan Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar at the Po­lice Train­ing Cen­tre (Pu­lapol) here yes­ter­day.

Present were Deputy Home Min­is­ter Datuk Nur Ja­zlan Mo­hamed and Univer­siti Utara Malaysia Vice-Chan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor Datuk Seri Dr Mo­hamed Mustafa Ishak, who was the mod­er­a­tor of the di­a­logue ses­sion par­tic­i­pated by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of more than 100 non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions (NGOs).

Zahid said the spe­cial task force an­nounced on Thurs­day would hold its first meet­ing next Tues­day.

The spe­cial task force com­prised min­is­ters re­lated to ed­u­ca­tion and re­li­gious schools af­fairs, as well as en­force­ment agen­cies from lo­cal coun­cils and other rel­e­vant author­i­ties.

“We hope that the rec­om­men­da­tions on Pon­dok Pak Ya’s find­ings will be used as guide­lines for re­li­gious and tah­fiz schools na­tion­wide,” he said.

On whether tah­fiz and re­li­gious schools should be put un­der the purview of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment, Zahid said it was not fea­si­ble be­cause th­ese in­sti­tu­tions were un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the state Re­li­gious De­part­ments (JAIN) and Ma­jlis Agama Is­lam Negeri (MAIN).

“(The ju­ris­dic­tion) should be ad­hered to, but we must make co­or­di­nated ef­forts to pre­vent un­to­ward in­ci­dents.”

On the pos­si­bil­ity that the gov­ern­ment would re­quire all tah­fiz and re­li­gious schools to be reg­is­tered with an agency reg­u­lated by the gov­ern­ment, Zahid said the gov­ern­ment had the Na­tional Tah­fiz School Ed­u­ca­tion Pol­icy, which was un­der the Depart­ment of Is­lamic De­vel­op­ment Malaysia (Jakim), but it had yet to be fully im­ple­mented.

He said Jakim only had the power to co­or­di­nate as en­force­ment and ex­e­cu­tion came un­der MAIN and JAIN.

“Ma­jlis Ke­bangsaan Hal Eh­wal Agama Is­lam should make the co­or­di­na­tion of tah­fiz and re­li­gious schools as one of its agen­das in their up­com­ing meet­ing.”

Zahid said the for­ma­tion of the spe­cial task force did not mean that the gov­ern­ment was in­ter­fer­ing, or tak­ing over the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the re­li­gious schools from state govern­ments and state re­li­gious de­part­ments, but to out­line sug­ges­tions for im­prove­ment.

“I will chair the spe­cial task force and In­syaAl­lah, I will ask for per­mis­sion from Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak at the lat­est by to­mor­row morn­ing (today). This is not to take over any­one’s power. This in­volves life, enough is enough.”

On the spec­u­la­tion that gas can­is­ters were found at the scene, Zahid said dis­cus­sions on the pos­si­ble causes of the fire had been held with Fire and Res­cue Depart­ment di­rec­tor-gen­eral Datuk Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim and city po­lice chief Datuk Amar Singh.

“We should not spec­u­late un­til in­ves­ti­ga­tions have been com­pleted. The find­ings will be sub­mit­ted to the spe­cial task force and it will an­nounce to the pub­lic whether the in­ci­dent in­volves el­e­ments of crime or el­e­ments out­side of tech­ni­cal er­rors, in­clud­ing short-cir­cuit.”

BER­NAMA PIC

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Dr Ah­mad Zahid Hamidi with fam­ily mem­bers of the Darul Qu­ran It­ti­faqiyah tah­fiz school fire vic­tims at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Foren­sic Medicine of Hospi­tal Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day.

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