KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) has called on the government to maintain its position once made in Parliament in 2015 indicating there is no dress code for the public when dealing with government departments and agencies.
The human rights group’s executive director Sevan Doraisamy in statement today also asked the government to issue an official statement on the matter.
“Suaram reminds the new government to maintain its position and issue an official statement as what Law and Institutions Reform Minister Datuk Sri Azalina Othman said in a written reply in Parliament in 2015, which is that there is no dress code for the public when dealing with departments and agencies government.
“This policy needs to be explained to all staff in the public sector including the Royal Malaysia Police regardless of rank,” he said today.
Sevan added that instead of shaming them, the police should realise that complainants who come to the police station and make a report are people who need help or protection immediately.
“The police must prioritise receiving reports, conducting investigations and sending investigation reports to the public prosecutor without making any judgments based on the appearance and behaviour of the complainant.
“The police should not be an entity that encourages moral policing and discrimination towards the use of complainants or victims,” he added.
Furthermore, Sevan said the act of preventing individuals from entering a police station on the grounds of inappropriate attire has not only violated the fundamental rights of Malaysians, but also the principle of equality in Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution.
Citing the Federal Constitution, Sevan said Article 8(1) states that “everyone is equal before the law and has the right to get equal protection under the law”.
“This action raises several questions about the service policy of the enforcement unit, including the denial of the right to make a complaint on the grounds of inappropriate attire, delaying the investigation process and delaying justice.
“The motto of the Royal Malaysia Police is very clear, which is firm, fair and prudent, so the police should be fair and firm when carrying out their duties and responsibilities.
“The police cannot use any excuse, especially inappropriate excuses, to prevent any party from making a police report,” he said.
Sevan further questioned how the police would assess whether a case was “life or death” before deciding on the relaxation of rules governing attire.
“Suaram disagrees with the statement made by Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Acryl Sani that the relaxation of dress code in police stations is only allowed in emergencies and is limited to ‘life and death’ situations.
“This issue should not exist because the responsibility of the police is to accept every report made by any party unconditionally including those who want to make a police report but their application does not meet the criteria,” he added.
Yesterday, Acryl Sani said police stations fell under the category of government offices, adding that the chief secretary to the government had made clear the types of clothes that can and cannot be worn in a directive.
He insisted that the rules must be followed, citing ‘kesopanan dan kesusilaan’ (courtesy and morality) the fifth principle of the Rukun Negara — as the basis.
A woman reportedly complained that she had been denied entry into a Selangor district police station over the length of her trousers.
She was said to have gone to Kajang police station to report an accident she had met only to be told by a policeman that she could not enter as her trousers were above her knees.