KUALA LUMPUR - A dress code is not something cast in stone, and should be reviewed from time to time in keeping with society's needs and norms, says Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
In light of the latest incident at the Wangsa Maju Road Transport Department (JPJ) office, the ministry is requesting for a review of the dress code so customers' needs can be better met.
According to Liow, while those obtaining services in government offices need to observe the dress code, the code itself should be relooked.
"For example, the dress code does not allow slippers, but we need to see the response from the public whether this should still be the case.
"There must be a certain dress code for any office, not just government offices, but we do not want to trouble the rakyat," he said after launching the MCA Youth e-Journal here yesterday.
On June 8, Suzanna G.L. Tan was forced to wear a sarong over her skirt when she went to the JPJ office to execute a transaction.
A Facebook posting about the incident was widely shared, with many commenting that Tan's skirt, which ended just above the knees, was not at all indecent.
Liow agreed that Tan's attire was in line with what society would generally deem decent. "She was not dressed to the extent that she must be barred from entering a government office," he said.
"I don't want the people to be too engrossed about dress codes. I believe the rakyat understand that when they go to a government office, they need to be dressed appropriately.
"We are a multi-racial country, and I disagree with some of the guidelines in the dress code because they are too stringent," he said.
Former minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz had called for the dress code to be rescinded altogether, saying government officials should put more focus on serving the public.
Meanwhile, the honorary deputy commissioner for Rela (People's Volunteer Corps) Datuk Seri Michael Chong said the Rela personnel at JPJ was merely following instructions when he asked Tan to wear the sarong.
"He was only doing his job. It is not fair to put all the blame on him," he said, adding that the guard had been transferred to desk duties.
However, Liow said a review of the dress code would suffice, and that it should not be abolished completely.
"This is up to the Chief Secretary, as the head of administration," he said.
Meanwhile, Liow who is also MCA president, said the e-Journal was aimed at strengthening the platform for youths to get their voices heard on issues affecting the party.
"I want them to have an in-depth discussion about political ideology and philosophies, such as whether MCA should remain a communal party or open to other races.
"I encourage youths to continue this discussion through the e-Journal, which can be downloaded in PDF form from the party website," he said.