25 November 2018
MELAKA: Missionary and Chinese secondary schools in the state have separate canteens serving purely halal food out of respect for Muslim students, and there is not wrong with this, says MP for Kota Melaka Khoo Poay Tiong (pic).
He said halal sections were made available some 15 years ago to cater for the increasing number of Muslims students in missionary schools, purely to give an option for those students.
“There are about five missionary schools in historic city with halal sections and parents were fine with their existence.
“One Chinese secondary school in my constituency also allocates a caterer for Muslim students and the school is fine with it,” he said when interviewed here on Sunday (Nov 25).
Khoo said these canteens could be patronised by non-Muslims too and there were no restrictions.
“We seem to be turning everything into a racial rhetoric and I hope we move on and respect the religious obligations of other communities.
“The existence of the separate canteens had never segregated the students, the ex-students both Muslims and non-Muslims maintain their brotherhood, that’s the strength of Malaysians,” he said in response to a report on a news portal on the existence of the dual canteens at missionary schools here.
Khoo said it’s more crucial now to focus on economic growth of the state without wasting time on adverse issues surfacing after few decades.
“I was asked to comment on the canteen issue seven years ago but I maintained the same stand as it’s right for Muslims to consume halal items and parents or the school managements have no issues,” he said.
Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said separate canteens have been there for some time and there have been no complaints.
He said dual canteens also elicit healthy competition between operators, where students could enjoy cheaper prices and better quality food.
“The only concern of Magpie is on the attitude of some teachers who often try to influence the minds of students with bigoted ideologies.
“Anyway, we hope the Education Ministry also look into the need for vegetarian sections at schools,” he said adding that the dual canteens were encouraged under Barisan Nasional government.
Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/11/25/nothing-wrong-with-having-separate-canteens-for-muslims-students-says-kota-melaka-mp/#Ms4xMOCUMv0GDCkk.99
Malacca State Education Department director Abu Bakar Saharim has insisted that the setting up of separate canteens in several schools in the state to cater to Muslim staff and students has nothing to do with racial segregation.
As Abu Bakar pointed out, many schools have been practising this system for a “long time now,” and the running of canteens is under the schools’ jurisdiction, with the government only providing guidelines.
Instead, he reportedly said the move only served to afford pupils “more choices.”
“Why not have separate canteens? It only gives the pupils more choices. This has nothing to do with segregation of races.
“This has been going on for a long time, why pick on it now? It is a non-issue.
“But if this becomes viral, we will get a directive from above,” he was quoted as saying in The Malaysian Insight.
Abu Bakar was responding to a TMI report that highlighted several schools – including missionary and vernacular schools – implementing a two-canteen policy, despite no directive from the government to do so.
According to the report, some of these schools have had such a policy in place for 10 years.
It also alleged that the separate canteens were introduced despite many of the schools’ core canteens being certified halal.
Meanwhile, an Education Ministry pupils’ welfare unit officer was reported saying that schools can employ more than one canteen operator “if they see fit,” and that only core operators need to make applications through the ministry.
The ministry is investigating the matter nonetheless, according to TMI.
Among the schools named in the report is a renowned missionary school in Malacca, which set up a smaller space behind the main canteen bearing the sign “Kantin Melayu (Malay canteen)” and run by a Muslim operator.
The school is allegedly one of “at least four other mission schools and a handful of vernacular schools in the state that have built a second canteen – for Muslim pupils and staff.”
A former pupil told TMI that non-Muslim staff and students were not allowed to eat at the second canteen.
He claimed: “The two canteens use different plates and cutleries. After eating, the pupils have to put them in separate bins. They will be washed separately.”
‘This is Malaysia now’
A canteen operator from another school implementing the policy told TMI that despite the main canteen being certified halal, certain teachers and students insisted on a canteen run by a Muslim operator.
“Even if you employ Malay staff to help you, they don’t want to eat here… We have no choice. This is Malaysia now,” he said.