Make clear what is acceptable to be worn at govt premises


PETALING JAYA: Calls are growing louder for the authorities to make clear what is acceptable dressing in government premises and other public places.

Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, spokesman of G25, a group of prominent Malays calling for rational discourse on Islam, has called on the Chief Secretary to the Govern­ment Tan Sri Ali Hamsa to immediately look into the matter.

“This is to avoid overzealous guards from taking it upon themselves to buy sarong and forcing people whom they deem improperly dressed to wear it before entering government buildings,” she said when contacted.

“G25 agrees with (former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir) that dress codes are meant for civil servants, not members of the public.”

A former diplomat, Farida was commenting on several incidents that saw members of the public being asked to cover up.

On June 8, a guard at the Wangsa Maju Road Transport Department office asked a woman to put on a sarong before she could be served.

On June 16, another woman was denied entry into the Sungai Buloh Hospital for wearing shorts, but was allowed in after she wrapped her legs with a towel.

Barely a week later, two women were denied entry to the Selangor State Secretariat building as their attire did not cover their knees.

On June 24, a woman was denied entry into Penang’s Balik Pulau Court Complex for wearing a skirt deemed too short.

On May 7, a man was denied entry into Kuala Lumpur Inter­national Airport’s lost and found department because he was wearing shorts and sandals.

Farida said it was not right to impose Islamic values on non-­Muslims.

“How can we expect them to respect us when we don’t respect their culture. This is a multiracial society, where wearing attire up to the knee is regarded decent for some cultures. We should respect that,” said Farida.

Author-entrepreneur Anas Zubedy said Prophet Muhammad had said hurting non-Muslims was like hurting him and annoying Allah.

“There are also verses in al-Quran that call upon us to lower our gaze rather than asking others to cover up.

“Rather than asking others to exercise self-restraint, it is more practical for us to just look away,” said Anas, who added that the degree of decency varied from one culture to another.

“Wearing a knee-length skirt is considered decent in many cultures. We don’t go around baring breasts, but then again, baring breasts is acceptable among some aboriginal clans.

“We shouldn’t impose the Muslim dress code on others, not even on Muslims,” said Anas, who also called on Ali to make clear whether the civil service dress code was applicable to the public.

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