Zahid tells religious schools to comply with safety standards

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All residential religious schools nationwide must comply with building safety standards set by the authorities, said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Speaking to reporters after visiting the Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah which caught fire this morning and claimed the lives of 23 people, he said the rules set by the local authorities and the Fire and Rescue Department were clear.

"Since 2011, there have been 31 such incidents. Safety standards must be complied with, by all parties for the safety of tahfiz students and teachers.

"The federal government does not wish to intervene in the affairs of state governments...we just want the safety standards to be followed," he said this evening.

According to him, the safety of students and instructors should be prioritised.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Zahid said Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and the government expressed condolences to the family members of the fire victims.

Based on reports given by the Kuala Lumpur police chief and Fire and Rescue Department director-general, he said 23 people were confirmed dead. They comprised 21 students and two teachers.

Ahmad Zahid said the police and the fire department would conduct further investigations as initial checks revealed the premises did not have the required building safety features.

He said the safety aspects should have been prioritised even though the premises was being used temporarily, as the actual centre was undergoing renovation.

"I wish to reiterate that we have an education policy for tahfiz schools, and this must be followed, be it temporary or permanent," he said, adding that disaster victim identification process was being conducted at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital.

- Bernama

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