Government should compel Islamic religious schools to register: Lam Thye

KUALA LUMPUR: The tragic fire which occurred at a residential religious school here and claimed the lives of 23 people early today, should serve as a lesson to all, says Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

He said the government should compel every Islamic religious school in the country to register with the Education Ministry or state government to enhance the safety and security of the schools.

According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health chairman, once they had registered, the government should make it compulsory for a comprehensive safety audit at such schools and their facilities.

Lee said the authorities must also carry out annual checks on the safety of such schools nationwide, involving both their buildings and facilities, including the hostels, especially those which were more than 20 years of age.

"The authorities which conduct the audit check must identify the safety level of the school, including fire hazards," he added in a statement here today.

Twenty-one students and two wardens died in a fire at the religious school, Tahfiz Darul Ittifaqyah in Jalan Keramat Hujung here early today.

On tahfiz schools, Lee said there were 519 such schools registered nationwide as of April, but many more were believed to be unregistered.

He said, it was reported that the Education Ministry found it difficult to monitor and enhance security features at tahfiz schools and its students since most of them were unregistered.

In the first three months of the year, fires were reported at some 30 tahfiz, pondok schools and madrasah, with losses estimated at over RM1.4 million, he added. — Bernama