KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — A Rohingya father has claimed today that his six-year-old child has been barred from attending a kindergarten which reopened today, allegedly due to an internal policy against foreigners who are deemed at high risk of contracting Covid-19.
The father said he was informed of the ban by one of the teachers in the PASTI Islamic kindergarten that is managed by the Youth wing of Islamist party PAS, after he enquired about its reopening.
“I just want to say something about this. I am a refugee for 27 years. So I am disappointed that I am not the only one suffering from this, but even my child has to go through the same situation I faced in Bangladesh and Malaysia.
“So my child is now witnessing discrimination. Even though this school is not government, but a madrasah, unfortunately, all the other kids are Malaysians except my daughter,” the man told Malay Mail, using the Arabic term for an Islamic education institution.
The man requested anonymity due to the renewed hostility against the Rohingya community during the movement control order (MCO) period.
A copy of the WhatsApp conversation between the man and the teacher was shared with Malay Mail, with the teacher saying the procedure is the same as Malaysia’s ban on foreigners in mosques.
Last month, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said only Malaysians are allowed to attend congregational prayers including Friday prayers in local mosques, even as the MCO enters the recovery phase.
The conversation was also shared by Shafiur Rahman, a London-based documentary film maker focusing on Rohingya issues, who said on Twitter that the move showed that “Malaysians have lost their moral compass”.
EXCLUSION OF ROHINGYA CHILD FROM MADRASA:— Shafiur Rahman (@shafiur) June 30, 2020
Shocking WhatsApp message received by #Rohingya #refugee in #Malaysia - a parent of a 6yr old child. School informs him that it will be opening tomorrow & then says his kid cannot attend. Malaysians have lost their moral compass. pic.twitter.com/aAdgBFX8oL
Malay Mail is withholding the location of the kindergarten due to the sensitive nature of the issue.
When contacted, PAS Youth’s Education Sector chief Muhtar Suhaili, who heads the PASTI committee, said he was unaware of the policy.
“I will check whether it is genuine or not, and I will investigate further,” Muhtar told Malay Mail.
Malay Mail is also seeking Education Minister Radzi Md Jidin’s comments.
Last week, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Malaysia can no longer take in Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar, citing a struggling economy and dwindling resources as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Muslim-majority Malaysia has long been a favoured destination for Rohingya seeking a better life after fleeing a military-led crackdown in Myanmar and refugee camps in Bangladesh.