PETALING JAYA: An education group has described the segregation of plastic cups for Muslim and non-Muslim students at a school here, as a form of apartheid that must be stopped.
“But instead of blacks and whites, it’s Muslims and non-Muslims.
“Parents who have a problem with their kids sharing cups should just get them to bring their own. In fact, bring your own drinks,” Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, the founder of Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE), said.
She was commenting on a photo that went viral recently, of plastic cups bearing the labels “Muslims” and “non-Muslims” that were placed beside a drinking water dispenser at Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Puteri in Hulu Langat.
Azimah said while the matter may seem trivial or inconsequential to some, it had wide implications.
For her, it appeared to be an effort to demean other races and religions.
Azimah compared such practices to those in the past like Nazi Germany’s treatment of the Jews, and the ethnic division between the Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority in Rwanda.
“It is a direction which is detrimental to the integration and acceptance of all ethnicities in Malaysia. Islam is a simple religion and does not exist to cause hardship for anyone.”
The Centre For A Better Tomorrow, a civil society group that champions moderation, described the practice as a “colossal misconduct” on the part of the school and said it was akin to a crime against humanity.
“We are teaching them to live in a divisive world at a young age,” its co-founder Gan Ping Sieu said when contacted.
The former deputy minister said if society continued to condone such bigotry as adults, they would be guilty of destroying the unity forged by the nation’s forefathers.
Gan said religious leaders must also play their part by rectifying such misguided mentalities.
A visit to Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Puteri by FMT yesterday found that the school had separated the cups, which were placed next to a drinking water dispenser in the walkway of one of the blocks.
The cups were labelled “Muslims” and “non-Muslims”.
A canteen worker said the practice began last year under the school’s principal, who was transferred last month after a four-year tenure.