Govt to allocate RM30mil to upgrade religious schools nationwide

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government will allocate RM30mil to upgrade the infrastructure of private tahfiz schools nationwide to prevent safety-related incidents in future.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced this after visiting the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school in Kampung Datuk Keramat on Friday night.

"What happened here is a tragedy that is very sad and heartbreaking.

"On inspection, I believe that the incident could have been avoided if there were no amendments made to the original plan approved by the Fire and Rescue Department.

"The additional wall constructed left the school with only one exit in the event of a fire," he said after a site visit and briefing here.

The Prime Minister and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor arrived on site at 9.55pm, along with other ministers.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V arrived at 10.20pm and was also given a full briefing by police and firemen at the scene.

Najib said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will chair a meeting to "take stock" of the condition of tahfiz schools nationwide.

Sultan Muhammad V (right, black T-shirt) and Najib (centre, white shirt) are given a briefing by Bomba personnel at the site of the tragedy. - Bernama

"Some follow the standards set by the Fire and Rescue Department, and some are registered with their religious departments but do not comply with standards.

"This is the right time to take stock of this. For the first time, the Government will allocate RM30mil for all private tahfiz schools to upgrade their infrastructure," he said.

Najib added that this dispelled notions that the Government was not providing help in the construction and operation of tahfiz schools.

"This incident is fate, and our plan was to get this school to move to a different building, but this had to happen before those plans could materialise.

"My deepest condolences to the families of the victims," he said.

On aid for the next-of-kin, Najib said the Government and Umno would be providing some.

The premier will also make a personal contribution as he had a connection to the students and religious teachers here.

"They used to come to my house in Jalan Duta every Friday night for prayers.

"This is a tragedy that I feel on a personal level," he said, adding that aid will be given to families of the deceased, for those injured in the incident, and for those involved who are suffering trauma.

On the cause of fire, Najib said he would wait for the full report before divulging any details.