A row has broken out in Malaysia over a primary school’s policy of providing separate drinking cups for Muslim and non-Muslim students.
Mujahid Yusof Rawa, above, vice-president of Amanah, an Islamic political party, described the practice as “unfortunate”, saying the drinking water dispenser presented a chance for Muslims and non-Muslims to share something – and there wasn’t anything wrong with that. Photos of the cups at the school – Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Puteri in Hulu Langat – have gone viral.
Even when a Chinese eats in a Malay shop, they will use the same plate and utensils as the Muslims. There isn’t a problem with that.
In Islam, when a Muslim goes anywhere to eat or drink, he shouldn’t ask if the cups or utensils are used by non-Muslims. You’re supposed to take it at face value that they are clean.
Deputy Education Minister Chong Sin Woon, above, said today that national schools in the country catered to “all” students regardless of what race or religion they belonged to.
National schools are for all, regardless of race and religion. Chong, who is also MCA Youth chief, said he was awaiting the findings of a report by the Selangor Education Department.
Weighing in on the issue, G25 member Johan Arriffin said incidences like this made him fear where Islam was heading in the country. G25 is a group comprising former civil servants.
Things like this will only create divisions among Malaysians in the name of so-called religious practices. In fact, it shows how much we’ve lost our sense of what religious values actually mean — religious values like tolerance.
Johan said on matters like what is halal, what was important was cleanliness and hygiene, rather than whether a non-Muslim used a cup.
With a cup, you wash it and it’s clean. It doesn’t matter whether it is used by a Muslim or not. To have separate cups is plain stupid.
You’ll have a situation where you have to separate everything, from utensils to the person preparing the meals. It’s ridiculous.
MCA Religious Harmony Bureau chairman Ti Lian Ker hit out at the policy, saying it promoted prejudice among students.
Ti said schools should never introduce policies which will leave an “indelible erroneous impression” on young minds that racial or religious domination and disrespect are justifiable or acceptable.
He added that the authorities must now check if the headmaster who implemented the policy, and has since been transferred, is introducing bigoted practices in his new school as well.
If so, Ti proposed that the headmaster be suspended.
The education ministry must immediately instruct the current administrator of SK Taman Puteri to withdraw this polarising practice, and apologise to all students and parents. It should commence teaching the values of multiculturalism and friendship, irrespective of faith.
The incident at the isn’t the first time the segregation of Muslim and non-Muslim students has hit the headlines.
Three years ago, a primary school in Setapak proposed separating Muslim and non-Muslim students, apparently to address a shortage of teachers, causing uneasiness among parents.
The school had argued that this arrangement was to manage the teaching of Islamic Studies and Arabic for Muslims, and the subjects of Moral, Mandarin and Tamil for non-Muslims.
In 2013, Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Pristana in Sungai Buloh came under fire after non-Muslim students were told to have their meals in a room adjoining a toilet during the month of Ramadan in apparent deference to their Muslim friends who were fasting.
This is the second time in this week that Malaysia has become embroiled in controversy. We reported yesterday that the authorities vowed to hunt down people who took attended an atheist meeting in Kuala Lumpur.