Singapore—Dr Chee Soon Juan, opposition politician and secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), found the different ministers’ statements on the tudung issue “bizarre”.
During a Budget debate speech on Feb 24, Workers’ Party MP Faisal Manap suggested that Muslim nurses be allowed to wear the tudung or headscarf as part of their uniform.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Maliki Osman joined Mr Masagos in highlighting that sensitive issues, such as the tudung, are discussed behind closed doors in Singapore to avoid serious ramifications.
However, just last week, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam clarified that the Government can “see good reasons why nurses should be allowed to wear the tudung if they choose to do so”.
He said the issue was discussed six months ago.
Singaporeans were stunned by Mr Shanmugam’s announcement, wrote Dr Chee in a Facebook post on Mar 29.
He wanted to know if Mr Masagos and Dr Maliki were not privy to the discussions. “They were Muslim ministers in-charge of matters Muslim, were they not?” he pointed out
And if they knew what was being discussed, “why did they say what they said in Parliament and not tell the public what Mr Shanmugam subsequently let on?” he asked.
“Were Masagos and Shanmugam not in the same chat group? Was Masagos not alerted that Shanmugam would, at some point, tell S’pore that the govt would likely relent on its current position (the heads-up would have been helpful because Masagos could have tempered his speech in Parliament)? And, curiously, why was it left to Shanmugam to inform the public when Masagos is the Muslim minister?,” the SDP CHIEF asked.
Dr Chee called the situation “bizarre” and likened it to other seeming communication gaffes earlier this year, namely the furore over Dr Balakrishnan’s statement that the Trace Together data would only be used for Covid-related purposes, and the state-owned industrial property developer JTC’s statement that its contractor had cleared part of the Kranji forest by mistake.
These issues “should make it clear that bizarre is what S’poreans have come to expect from the current set of ministers,” said Dr Chee, adding as a final note that the SDP has been championing the right of Muslim women to wear the tudung in the civil service and schools “for the last couple of decades”.
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