KUALA LUMPUR - The Pahang Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MUIP) is introducing a new registration and regulation process for all Islamic schools in the eastern Malaysian state.
The council's deputy president Datuk Seri Wan Abdul Wahid Wan Hassan said the new practice is to ensure safety requirements are met and the schools' finances are in order before they can operate, reported the New Straits Times.
"To secure approval, MUIP will have a check list which includes the safety of the premises, the co-curricular syllabus and the ability to carry out daily operations without any glitches.
"We do not want individuals who cannot afford to manage the premises and then neglect the safety aspects nor do we want individuals who take the opportunity to collect donations (using the schools' name), which is not allowed without MUIP's approval," he was quoted as saying.
The move comes in the wake of the tragic fire on Sept 14 at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school in the capital Kuala Lumpur which claimed 23 lives, most of them young students.
There are 538 private religious institutions in Pahang state but only 333 are currently registered with the council. Mr Wan Abdul Wahid said the council hopes to register all the private religious institutions in the state by year end.
Mr Wan Abdul Wahid warned that the authorities will not hesitate to shut down errant schools if they fail to register with the council under the new regulations.
Registered schools will be eligible for financial assistance, he said, which includes RM200 in financial aid for each pupil.
Meanwhile Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Friday that tahfiz schools that fail to comply with fire safety recommendations within a certain time frame will be shut down, reported The Star.
The Prime Minister said the issue of fire safety at tahfiz schools had become a "time bomb" following the Sept 14 blaze.
"The Cabinet on Wednesday met and instructed that the Fire and Rescue Department must investigate all tahfiz schools in Malaysia and submit a report.
"Those (the schools) which are not up to standard will be given a time frame to adhere, and if they still fail, they must close down because this involves our childrens' safety, which we cannot compromise on.
"This is a 'time bomb' which we cannot look upon lightly," Datuk Seri Najib said in his speech at celebrations in Kuala Lumpur for the Muslim new year.