We have to balance needs: Govt on hijab issue

We have to balance needs: Govt on hijab issue

The Government has responded to the ongoing debate that it allow Muslim women to don the hijab or headscarf in all workplaces.

Deputy Prime Minster Teo Chee Hean said in a statement on Tuesday that the Government understands these views but has a responsibility to balance the needs of different communities in order to maintain social harmony.

DPM Teo, who is also the Home Affairs minister, said that every community pressing for its own concerns must bear in mind how that affects other communities and how it is seen by others.

"That is the reality of living in a multiracial, multi-religious society that we all have to internalise," he said.

"We have been able to enjoy a peaceful and harmonious society, and also the many freedoms that all religions have in Singapore, because our communities understand the need to balance what each wants, and have been moderate and restrained in accommodating one another.

"I hope this will continue well into the future."

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Minister for Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had met the People's Action Party's Malay-Muslim MPs to discuss the hijab issue.

At the meeting, Mr Lee stressed that his aim was to create an environment "where Muslims and people of other faiths can practice their religions freely and peacefully".

"But he also explained why we must manage and balance the diverse needs of our multiracial and multi-religious society. Hence, the need for accommodation and compromise by all parties," Dr Yaacob said.

The meeting came amid recent calls from some groups for Muslim women in public-sector professions that require a uniform, to be allowed to wear the hijab.

Dr Yaacob said that those at the meeting agreed on the need to continually work towards better mutual understanding of the diverse needs of different racial and religious groups.

He said that he was "confident that we will find practical solutions if there is goodwill all round".

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