KANGAR, Sept 17 — Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said a new committee was required to coordinate the various private religious schools as the federal government has no intention of meddling into the affairs of state religious authorities.
He said even though a policy on such centres could be established, the authority to take action was up to the respective states.
Ahmad Zahid was speaking at a media conference after opening the Arau Umno delegates’ conference at Dewan 2020 here today.
He was commenting on the statement of Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid that the ministry was prepared to cooperate and collaborate with state governments on tahfiz (private religious) schools yesterday.
There should be a safety standard regardless of whether the centres were registered or not to avoid another Maahad Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifiqiyah incident from recurring, said Ahmad Zahid.
The Deputy Prime Minister said he had discussed with the chairman of the ill-fated religious school to put aside their religious differences in the interest of students and their lives.
He said an Action Committee meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on the proposals of Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Pak Ya Religious School (or Maahad Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifiqiyah) would be held on Tuesday.
He also congratulated the police on the successful arrest of seven individuals involved in the fire at Pak Ya Religious School.
“Those involved maybe influenced by drugs and revenge but at the initial stage the act had caused the loss of lives.
“We should learn starting from Pondok Pak Ya fire. The RCI should investigate thoroughly and put up proposals on standards which must be complied with as prevention is better than cure,” he added.
The Deputy Prime Minister was sad as the crime involved youths and the incident could have been avoided if the Maahad operator involved understood their problems.
He also complimented police for resolving the case of the religious school fire in less than 48 hours with the arrest of seven individuals.
He said the Attorney-General would be preparing the prosecution paper to charge those involved.
According to him, about 52 per cent of the country’s prisoners were involved in drug related crimes causing the separation of enforcement under the Narcotics CID and rehabilitation under the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) to be more focused.
“Enforcement alone is not enough. Families and the people should be more aware as the problems were also experienced in other countries,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
On the dissemination of a video on the arrest of the seven individuals, Ahmad Zahid said the viral video was from other agencies and not from police.
“The dissemination of information which was not conclusive can affect investigations,” said Ahmad Zahid who is also Home Minister. — Bernama