The local management of international hotel chains should request their headquarters to waive the ban on
frontline female Muslim staff from wearing the headscarf.
Rightfully, the hospitality industry should reflect the country’s diversity, that has been a major draw
for foreign tourists over the years.
Islam is a major religion in this country and it makes no sense to ban the headscarf. Just because the rule has been in place for a long time does not make it right.
This issue should be considered in the wider context of plural Malaysia that celebrates diversity. Hotel
operators need to play their part in promoting the “Malaysia, Truly Asia” slogan.
They should protest one-size-fits-all rules that do not take into account local sensitivities, that reeks of discrimination.
So long as the attire does not hamper an employee from effectively carrying out their jobs, the clothing should not be banned.
On a related note, clothing preference is a personal choice. In public, no one should be told what is
proper attire and what is not, so long as it is within the confines of the law.
Of late, some government agencies had stepped into moral policing by denying entry into its premises, some members of the public deemed to have dressed inappropriately.
Such decisions are often arbitrary. These civil servants who try to impose their personal values on the public’s dress code, is behaving no differently from multinational companies imposing dress codes that are insensitive to local settings.
Such attitude is not helpful in a plural society, which ought to embrace diversity. Embracing diversity
can go a long way in building the much-needed bridges in a society riven by radicalized elements that
manifests in issues like how a shop in Johor only serves one ethnic group.
* Gan Ping Sieu is the Co-president of the Centre For A Better Tomorrow (CENBET)