KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 ― A Cabinet minister today demanded to know as to how the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school in Kampung Datuk Keramat was allowed to continue operating illegally, despite not having a permit.
Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said that the authorities responsible to vet such schools should not be spared scrutiny, after a pre-dawn blaze killed 21 children and two of their teachers on Thursday.
“What went wrong here is that they did not get the approval. But the school has been there for so many years how is it that the authorities did not notice, did not know whether they had a licence or not?
“The thing is when there is a fire, we go to the source. Not to look for some other reasons to crucify the school. I think that’s not fair. Look at the source.
“I want to know how is it that the school has been operating? I was made to understand that everyone knew about the school. How come there is no licence?” Nazri told reporters today.
The three-storey school was initially a double-storey terrace house. Fire and Rescue Department deputy director-general of operations Datuk Soiman Jahid was quoted saying the school had went ahead with operations even without obtaining a fire permit first.
The Islamic religious boarding school’s building reportedly lacked a certificate to declare it fit for occupation, and the school had also yet to be granted approval by the Fire and Rescue Department to start using the building.
It was reported last month that the Fire and Rescue Department had recorded 211 fires at tahfiz schools throughout the country from 2015 to 2017, with RM1.4 million worth of losses in the first three months this year alone from fires at around 30 Islamic religious schools including tahfiz schools, pondok schools and madrasah.