Singapore—On Tuesday (Mar 31), the Prime Minister’s Office released letters between PM Lee and Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, Mufti of Singapore, regarding the tudung issue.
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.
And 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 added that the issue was discussed six months ago.
On his Facebook page on Mar 31, PM Lee also wrote about his communication with the Mufti, saying that Dr Nazirudin wrote to him to express support from Muis (the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore) for the Government’s deliberations on allowing nurses to wear the tudung.
The Prime Minister wrote back to thank him for Muis’ support.
PM Lee reiterated that sensitive issues concerning race and religion are normally discussed behind closed doors “so that we can all talk candidly and honestly, and understand the problem from different perspectives”.
He also acknowledged that social attitudes and norms evolve with society, but added that “any changes to the balance we have achieved must be carefully considered.
“Ultimately the changes must strengthen, not weaken, our racial and religious harmony.”
In his letter to the Prime Minister, dated Mar 27, the Mufti expressed thanks on behalf of Muslim nurses, adding that the Muslim community understands the complexity of the issue.
He added, “We fully support the government’s secular and neutral stance in treating various religious groups evenly, while it consults the community and considers the impact of its policies on society”.
Dr Nazirudin also recognised that societies all over the globe have become more polarised, and that “In pursuing one step forward, we should not inadvertently take a few steps back.”
Therefore, it is more important than ever to “affirm our commonalities, emphasise our shared values and pursue the common good together,” the Mufti wrote in his letter to the Prime Minister.
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