Against headscarf ban? Curb all types of workplace discrimination, Rafizi says

PKR’s Rafizi Ramli proposed for a law against discrimination in workplace. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng
PKR’s Rafizi Ramli proposed for a law against discrimination in workplace. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — PKR’s Rafizi Ramli explained today that Malaysian Association of Hotels’ (MAH) justification to ban female frontline workers in hotels from wearing headscarves is still lawful, no matter how frustrating it was.

The Pandan MP said the ban happened due to prejudice that can happen anywhere and against adherents of any religion, and proposed instead for a law against discrimination in workplace.

“Actually this issue can be stopped effectively if there is an Act that bars any policies, rules or practices that can discriminate any individuals or groups based on genders, ethnicities, religions or abilities,” Rafizi said in a statement.

The Malaysian Labour Centre of the Union Network International recently said hotel employees had complained about discrimination against Muslim front desk workers who were told to remove their headscarves.

The ban had caused uproar among some Islamist groups and Opposition party PAS, since it was highlighted last week.

In response, MAH had reportedly defended the policy, saying that it is in accordance to international standards of operation.

PAS information chief Nasrudin Hassan then complained of the lack of opposition against the headscarves ban for some female workers in the hotel industry, on the heels of heated criticisms against Muslim-only laundrettes in the country.

The Temerloh MP had also accused the relative silence as an alleged form of “Islamophobia”, defined as the fear or prejudice against Islam or Muslims.

Rafizi said he was disappointed by Nasrudin’s reaction to the issue by dragging religious and racial sentiments by claiming that “Muslims have lost their right to worship in their own country”.

“I respect Nasrudin’s choice to use a method he deems appropriate to tackle workplace discrimination, but I hope it will not be given religious or racial dimensions,” he said.

Rafizi said he will instead continue to campaign for such a law, and will distribute a proposal to all MPs for their support in Parliament this week.

“If there is huge support from many MPs across all parties and races, I believe it must be elevated by the human resource minister to be the basis of a law and tabled in the Parliament as soon as possible,” he said.

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