THE labels separating cups for Muslims and non-Muslim pupils in a Selangor school have been removed after a picture of the labelled utensils went viral and caused a furore.
The Malaysian Insight visited the primary school in Taman Puteri in Hulu Langat today and found the pupils largely unaffected by the change and certainly unaware of the anger and tension the labels had caused.
The pupils said the cups were placed next to the water dispenser in the corridor.
Asked why the cups were labelled, some pupils said they had no idea and were just obeying the rules.
The racks where the plastic cups are placed above the water dispenser no longer carry the labels, which have been replaced by a notice: “Sila cuci gelas ini selepas digunakan dan letakkan di tempat yang disediakan” (Please wash the cups after use and put them back on the rack).
The Malaysian Insight took a photo of the new labels but was reprimanded by a teacher and was told to leave, and was escorted out of the school. The teacher also ensured that the photo was deleted.
Attempts talk to the teacher and other parents were rebuffed with denials that they had “no knowledge of the matter”.
Berita Daily reported that the headmaster, during a visit from MIC Youth education bureau chief Ganesan Seerangam, citing “health” and some non-Muslim pupils’ practice of consuming non-halal food in the school as reasons for separating the cups.
“I was surprised when he (the headmaster) defended his action to take care of the ‘health’ of the pupils.
“According to the headmaster, there are a few pupils who bring non-halal food to school… this was why he had prepared cups for Muslim and non-Muslims,” said Ganesan.
The school has 214 Malay, 163 Indian, and five Chinese pupils, said Ganesan.
The “cup apartheid” has sparked outrage among the online community, civil society groups and politicians nationwide.
Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) said it was a form of apartheid that must be stopped.
Amanah vice-president Mujahid Yusof Rawa said the segregation of the cups was “unfortunate” and a “practice” which could lead to other problems, adding that “Islam does not ask for this”.
MCA religious harmony bureau chairman Ti Lian Ker said it promoted prejudice.
G25, a group of former civil servants for human rights, called it “plain stupid”.