KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — No company should turn away job applicants just because they wear the tudung, a DAP lawmaker said today as she came to the defence of Mira Kamil, a Muslim woman who was reportedly rejected several times during her job hunt at a mall here.
Damansara Utama assemblyman Yeo Bee Yin said companies should evaluate all applicants equally based solely on merit and competency and not by their choice of clothing.
"The way a woman chooses to dress speaks little of her characters, competency and capability, which are the most important characteristics of a productive employee.
"The economy will benefit when companies in Malaysia are free from discrimination and the best employees are hired to run the companies," she said in a statement here.
Mira's story first came to light when she posted a complaint on her Facebook page on September 2, claiming she had been turned away by at least four retail stores because she wears a tudung, a headscarf worn by Muslim women for religious reasons.
“Kita mmg nak pakai orang, tapi xnak yang pakai tudung,” she wrote, quoting from one sports retail store.
[Translation: We do need recruits but we don't want those who wear tudungs]
In another international store, Mira said she was told, "Sorry, pakai tudung xboleh kerja sini."
[Translation: Sorry, those wearing tudungs cannot work here]
At another clothing store, the person-in-charge allegedly said, "We don't hire hijab people."
In her attempt to apply for a job at a departmental store, Mira was told, "Selalunya kita tak ambil orang pakai tudung kerja dengan kita."
[Translation: We usually don't hire people who wear tudungs to work with us.]
The same "shocking" replies, according to Mira, was repeated at several other stores in the mall.
“I've lived in the UK for 4 years, i've travelled places in the Europe and North Atlantic, but never have i felt disgraced by wearing a hijab.
“And today in my own country i was disgraced for covering my hair. Merdeka? Really? This is clearly NOT an Islamic country.
“Even the UK is not like this. I am disappointed," Mira had written.
The post immediately went viral and as at the time of writing, a total of 8,824 netizens have shared it on Facebook.
Malay daily Harian Metro later sent one of its tudung-clad reporters out on an undercover assignment to prove Mira's claims.
In its video report posted on YouTube, Mira's complaints were proven true.
Lashing out, Yeo said Muslim women should be free to express their religious beliefs without having to be forced not to wear their tudungs.
At the same time, she said, by wearing the tudungs, these Muslim women should not be subjected to any form of disadvantage or discrimination within the workplace.
"This issue is not of religion but of justice and equal rights. There is a need to review on whether to explicitly include clothing items in the non-discrimination clause of the constitution of Malaysia as of the constitution of the United State and Mexico," the assemblyman said.
"Finally, we would like to urge the companies in Malaysia to treat all the potential candidates equally in the recruitment process," she added.