KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 — Male visitors could be kept apart from women at government offices in Terengganu under a proposed initiative from the New Terengganu Transformation (TTB) plan.
The move is the latest in the state’s increasingly Islamic administration, which has so far outlawed unmarried men and women from riding motorcycles together and required shops to close between 12pm and 2pm on Fridays for Muslim prayers.
“This (the gender-segregated lines) is very good in facilitating women. We will make two main lines in government offices that are most visited,” Mentri Besar Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman was quoted as saying by state news agency Bernama.
“There is no problem in implementing this and it can be translated in the TTB.”
Federal agencies in the state such as the Road Transport Department and National Registration Department had between Tuesday and Thursday prepared counters specifically for women.
Gender segregation is a hallmark of Kelantan that has been ruled by conservative Islamist party PAS since 1990, but has gradually emerged in neighbouring Terengganu.
Both states share similar demographics whereby residents are overwhelmingly Malay and Muslim.
The move also comes amid increasing religious conservatism in Malaysia, which portrays itself as a moderate Muslim nation to the world but is the only country that prohibits non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” and several other Arabic phrases.
Controversies over dress codes also occurred last year, when several federal departments and agencies began denying service to visitors who were not suitably attired, leading to allegations that religious conservatism was creeping further into the administration.
Religious topics also regularly dominate local news, such as the current controversy over “hot dogs” and a bid to empower the Islamic courts to mete out any punishment short of the death penalty.