In light of the ongoing dress code/”covering up” issues in Malaysia as of recent, G25 coordinator Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin has stepped forward to say that the Chief Secretary to the Government should issue clear directives regarding dress codes and its enforcement at government offices and agencies.
G25, a group comprising of former high-ranking civil servants and diplomats, gained recognition for its moderate stance on Islam and race relations in Malaysia.
According to The Star Online, Noor Farida was quoted as saying, “There is no legal basis for the imposition of dress codes on the public whom they are serving. We agree with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that dress codes should be applied to the staff of departments and agencies and not members of the public.”
On Thursday (25th June), former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reportedly said that dress codes were an office matter, that it was the right of an individual to wear shorts in public and should be allowed to enter government facilities like a hospital as long as they weren’t naked.
CNA quoted Tun Dr Mahathir as saying:
Soon, not only shorts will be an issue. If a woman leaves a house without a burqa, it will be considered wrong. We are acting like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia. That’s their culture. When we try to turn it into our culture, it becomes a problem.
Dress codes in these buildings should only apply to its employees and not to visitors – especially those who are not Muslim, he added.
Noor Farida added that G25 felt it was inappropriate for security guards at government agencies or other places to enforce dress codes at their whims and fancy.
If they are doing this on their own initiative from a misplaced sense of moral indignation that their religious sensibilities have been violated, they should be taken to task by their department heads. They should learn to respect other races and other cultures. Dresses with hemlines above the knee are perfectly respectable in non-Muslim cultures.
The issue of dressing went public after several women, all of whom weren’t exactly provocatively dressed, were asked to cover their legs before entering government premises such as the Sungai Buloh hospital, and the Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ) Malaysia (Road Transport Department Malaysia).
The women were asked to “cover up” by the security guards or were not allowed in.
The most recent case involved blogger Wilson Ng (of placesandfoods), who had gone to pick up his luggage which he had accidentally left at the baggage carousel at KLIA.
Initially, we was told to go back home and change the short pants he was wearing. The security office later settled for Wilson “covering up” with a pair of black pants and shoes that belong to the security office before letting him into KLIA’s baggage services’ “Lost and Found” office.
Malaysian Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) has since apologised over the incident.
We agree with both Tun Dr Mahathir as well as Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin though. Like every other urban-living Malaysian, we’re tired of hearing about the same dress code issue cropping up time and time again. Perhaps these regulations shouldn’t even exist beyond government offices/departments in the first place? Malaysia is, after all, a multicultural country.
It’s about time someone put their foot down and clear this up once and for all.