HULU LANGAT - 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, 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. But school authorities refused to comment, the news portal said.
Reports on the practice have gone viral in Malaysia, with authorities, parents and netizens criticising the school.
Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria said the practice was discriminatory and could lead to hatred of Islam, according to Free Malaysia Today.
"This should not have happened. We should know the ruling. Don't be too rigid that others would begin despising us. Islam pays importance to human relations," he was quotedas saying.
He said there was no basis to 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 said. "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,'' The Star reported.
He also said 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.
Noor Azimah felt that imposing one's religious values on others is not the way forward, especially for children.
The MCA Religious Harmony Bureau called on the Education Ministry to immediately order the school to stop the practice, accordiing to The Star.
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. 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," he said.