KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 ― Pusat Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah was not registered with the Education Ministry, the deputy prime minister said after a fire broke out in the religious school here, killing 24.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said checks would be done to see if the tahfiz school was registered with the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) or with any foundation.
“This is not the first time. We are quite observant. We know that every two to three years, there are incidents of fires or incidents like this, incidents of structures collapsing in these schools,” national newswire Bernama quoted Zahid as saying in Sibu today.
Zahid, who is also home minister, reportedly said the federal government respected the state jurisdiction of religious affairs, including religious schools.
“But we do see that safety standards at these schools are not complied with, as if they are being stubborn and perceive that the government is trying to interfere with their affairs,” he was quoted saying.
Today’s incident at Pusat Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah in Kampung Datuk Keramat in the city here, which reportedly happened at about 5.15am, was the worst fire to hit religious schools in the country in almost three decades.
In 1989, 27 female students died in a fire at Sekolah Agama Rakyat (SAR) Taufikiah Al-Halimiah in Kedah.
The Fire and Rescue Department reportedly said Pusat Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah did not have the necessary fire permit before opening. The room where the victims’ bodies were found only had one door and the grilles of the windows reportedly could not be opened, according to police.
The fire at the school for Quranic memorisation killed 22 male students aged between 13 and 17 and two wardens.