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KUALA LUMPUR, June 25 — As debate heats up over dress codes at government buildings, Selangor DAP lawmaker Hannah Yeoh lashed out today at an ethnic Chinese critic who labelled her an “enemy” to her own race for donning a headscarf while in a mosque last week.
In a Facebook post, Lim Fang, who is a columnist with Sin Chew Daily and China Press, criticised Selangor’s first female Speaker for allegedly giving a chance for Malay government officials to impose dress codes on Chinese women.
“If DAP’s Hannah Yeoh can assimilate into Malay society why should Chinese women be different from Malay society?
“To bring disgrace to yourself you will also bring disgrace to future generations. The DAP should discipline the enemy within,” the writer said in his post written in Mandarin yesterday.
Far from being chastened, Yeoh retorted on Facebook today, saying “extreme views exist in every faith & race” and called on fellow Malaysians to reject such mindsets if they hoped to move the country forward.
“I joined politics to fight against such mindset & I will not apologise for my stand,” she added in her post that has since drawn over 10,000 “likes” and more than 800 shares by Facebook users since this morning.
When contacted, Yeoh said it was unbecoming for the columnist to say such things as she felt she was not betraying the Chinese community by adhering to the dress norms of another religion.
“Wearing a headscarf in a mosque does not betray the Chinese community. When you go to a place of worship it is only right to dress appropriately. I cover my head with a scarf even when I go to Sikh temples,” the practising Christian told Malay Mail Online.
She also said the issue of her donning a tudung, the Muslim headscarf, while in a mosque should not be likened to a recent spate of incidents nationwide where non-Muslims were forced to cover up their legs while at public institutions.
Yeoh said this is because it was entirely a different principle applied to government agencies compared to religious places.
“Sarong incident is different, I’m shocked that people cannot differentiate. Schools and government agencies are not places of worship.
“Government agencies are there to serve taxpayers of various races and beliefs and should not impose certain practices on all,” she added.
Earlier today, a woman claimed she was barred from entering a courthouse in Penang for allegedly violating the dress code, despite wearing a skirt that covered her knees.
On June 9 a middle-aged woman who was made to wear a sarong over her skirt, which was slightly above the knee, when seeking service at a Road Transport Department (RTD) office.
On June 22, New Straits Times reporter C. Premananthini and a Pandamaran resident named Tan Lee Fong were barred from entering the Selangor State Secretariat building, and made to don sarongs as their skirts were deemed short.
In a third incident on June 16 but made public later, a woman was forced to wrap her legs with a towel to gain entry into the Sungai Buloh Hospital.