KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 — DAP MP Gobind Singh Deo today offered legal aid for those who want to file lawsuits to challenge a “discriminatory” ban against Muslim women wearing the tudung or headscarf while working as hotel frontline staff.
Gobind, who is also a lawyer, said such a policy violates the constitutional right to religious freedom.
“There is no reason as to why there needs to be in place any policy which bans the use of the tudung in that industry. Such a ban is to my mind arbitrary, discriminatory and unconstitutional. It offends against the constitutional right of a person to profess and practice his or her religion.
“It is also highly insensitive to the religious belief of Muslim women, which right we should respect and uphold. To my mind an outright ban on the tudung in this instance is unreasonable,” the Puchong MP said in a statement.
“The government must address this and set the record straight, be it by legislation or otherwise. If there is a need for a court ruling on the matter, I am prepared on behalf of the DAP, to offer legal assistance to those affected to challenge such a ruling in court as to the legality or otherwise of such policies,” the DAP deputy chairman said.
The issue arose after the Malaysian Labour Centre of the Union Network International said hotel employees have complained about discrimination against Muslim front desk workers who were told to remove their headscarves.
The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chairman Samuel Cheah Swee Hee was reported by The Star as saying that the policy is in practice in international hotel chains which use the same standard operating procedure on uniforms globally, adding that Muslim staff could either work in non-frontline areas or go to hotels that allow Muslim frontline staff to wear tudung.
The MAH Penang chapter president Khoo Boo Lim yesterday said no hotels in the state employs such a policy.