KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today gave a stern warning to religious schools to comply with fire safety recommendations within a certain time frame, failing which the errant schools will be shuttered.
According to The Star Online, Najib said the issue of fire safety at religious schools had become a “time bomb” following the recent incident at a tahfiz centre in Datuk Keramat Kuala Lumpur.
“The Cabinet on Wednesday met and instructed that the Fire and Rescue Department must investigate all tahfiz in Malaysia and submit a report,” adding that there cannot be any compromise on this issue.
“Those (the schools) which are not up to standard will be given a time frame to adhere, and if they still fail, they must close down because this involves our children’s safety, which we cannot compromise on.
“This is a ‘time bomb’ which we cannot look upon lightly,” Najib said in his speech at the national level Ma’al Hijrah celebration at the mosque here.
According to Bernama, Najib, however, did not state how much time the schools would be given to upgrade safety measures to meet the standard.
In the fire which started at 5.15am on Sept 14 at the religious school, 21 students and two teachers who also stood in as wardens were burnt to death after they were trapped on the top floor of the three-storey building.
The police have arrested seven youths aged between 11 and 18 to help in the investigation into the fire which the Fire and Rescue Department has ascertained as arson.
Najib said the incident at the religious school was most saddening and continued to haunt him.
“I just cannot believe that teenage boys could have planned the crime in such detail to cause the deaths of 21 innocent students and two teachers.
“What wrong did they commit? Don’t tell me a quarrel over futsal led to this crime. This is what has been haunting me,” he said.
The Maal Hijrah event was also attended by Najib’s wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom and several other Cabinet ministers.