Have public dialogue on hijab issue: WP

THE Workers' Party (WP) on Wednesday called for public dialogue to achieve a "workable consensus" on the issue of uniformed public officers wearing the hijab or Muslim headscarf, adding that the discussions should involve the heads of the uniformed services.

Aljunied GRC MP Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap said in a statement that the WP believes the hijab issue should not be politicised. He added that consensus is best achieved through public dialogue within the Muslim community, among all communities and with the elected government.

The discussions should be held with "an open mind" and include input from the heads of the uniformed professions on how feasible it would be to accommodate Muslim women wearing the hijab in their organisations, he said.

The statement comes a day after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met People's Action Party Malay-Muslim MPs to discuss the Government's response to recent calls to let nurses and frontline officers don the tudung.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean also said on Tuesday that the Government has to balance the different community requirements and "keep in mind what we need to maintain overall social harmony".

On Wednesday, Mr Faisal said the WP recognises the "genuine desire and aspirations of Muslim Singaporeans who seek a change in government policy to allow the wearing of the hijab in the public sector's uniformed professions".

The WP observed that Singaporeans have grown accustomed to working Muslim women who choose to don the hijab in various capacities like in government offices, and as teachers and National Day Parade participants.

"We recognise that good relations exist among our communities in Singapore, and believe that this will decide how far each group can practise its religion in an environment of tolerance and mutual respect," he added.

The WP also praised the Muslim community's "overwhelmingly rational response" on the issue so far, saying it augurs well for positive discussions between the community, Government and uniformed services going forward.


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