HULU LANGAT: A policy of segregating drinking cups in a primary school in Selangor has threatened to spark yet another controversy involving the treatment of non-Muslim students in government schools.
FMT’s visit to Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Puteri in Hulu Langat showed that cups placed next to a drinking water dispenser at one of the school’s blocks were labelled “Muslim” and “non-Muslim”.
School authorities refused to comment when asked for a response, but a canteen worker said, on condition of anonymity, that the practice began last year under the school’s principal, who has since been transferred after a four-year tenure.
Attempts to get comments from the education ministry, including Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan, also failed.
Parent Madhavi expressed shock over the policy, while school bus operator Chitra Devi said the practice should be stopped as children of all communities should “eat and play together”.
“Money changes hands from non-Muslims to Muslims and vice-versa. So this shouldn’t be practised,” she added.
Another parent, Norsarina Zakaria, was surprised to see the photos that had gone viral over the net earlier. She disagreed with how the school had labelled the cups.
“Segregating the drinking cups for non-Muslims and Muslims will give a negative impression to the rest. It’s as though Islam is too rigid a religion”, she said.
SK Taman Puteri has 219 Malay and 145 non-Malay pupils.
Earlier, an opposition politician took to Facebook to slam the policy.
“A new level of bigotry. Shame on you,” said Seberang Perai Municipal Council member Satees Muniandy.
“This is what will happen in single stream schools. Non-Muslims would be taught that they are different and not fit to share a cup with Muslim students,” he said.
Three years ago, a primary school in Setapak proposed separating Muslim and non-Muslim students to address a shortage of teachers, causing uneasiness among parents.
The school had argued that it was to manage the teaching of Islamic Studies and Arabic for Muslims, and the subjects of Moral, Mandarin and Tamil for non-Muslims.
In 2013, Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Pristana in Sungai Buloh came under fire after non-Muslim students were told to have their meals in a room adjoining a toilet during the month of Ramadan because their Muslim friends were fasting.