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SDP’s Damanhuri Bin Abas reaches out to PM Lee to reconsider tudung policy

He posted a photo of his sister at work as a nurse in Australia, wearing the tudung

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Singapore—It seems that the tudung issue, discussed in Parliament earlier this month, has not yet died down.

Mr Damanhuri Bin Abas, a politician from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), has weighed in on the matter in a Facebook post, even tagging Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong “to seriously consider this view and feedback I share and relook the policy,” he wrote on Sunday (Mar 21).

In his Budget debate speech on Feb 24, Workers’ Party MP Faisal Manap  suggested that Muslim nurses wear the tudung as part of their uniform.

Responding in Parliament on March 8, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said that the uniform policy in public service cannot be tilted towards any particular religious belief.

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“We don’t want patients to prefer or not prefer to be served by a Muslim nurse, nor do we want people to think that public security is being enforced by a Muslim or non-Muslim officer,” he said.

In his post, Mr Damanhuri wrote that “the Muslim community has left this issue unresolved for more than 50 years since independence”.

He acknowledged the reason the Government has given for disallowing the tudung, but added that he wishes the Government would make an effort to reconsider its policy.

“Even if it does not want to budge from its core reasoning, surely it must have some sympathy to bend it somewhat to cater to those who sincerely do seek employment in the health sector, amidst a dismal job market, choosing the nursing profession as their preferred option while maintaining their desire to observe Islamic attire requirements i.e., the tudung,” he wrote.

He said he believes he speaks for “the silent group of Muslim women in the nursing profession” who follow the prescribed uniform by removing their headdresses, despite this going against their beliefs.

Mr Damanhuri also wrote about his own sister, a nurse, who left Singapore and now practises nursing in Australia along with her husband, who is also a nurse.

He added a photo of his sister at work, wearing the tudung.

FB screengrab: Damanhuri Bin Abas

“She worked as a nurse in SGH from 1992. She had to make this hard choice and painful decision after coping for many years as a nurse removing her tudung to observe the dress requirements imposed on her – a daily sacrifice for an honest income to perform her professional role as a nurse. 

“She had believed and waited for many years that the policy would change but was disappointed.

“In 2003, after working for 10 years as a nurse, they left Singapore and became Australian citizens. Sadly a loss for Singapore.” 

He added that he is now “personally” reaching out to PM Lee for a rethinking of Singapore’s tudung policy.

The SDP politician added, “Finally, I have decided to also explore the legal route too. At least, I know I will have exhausted all means possible here. I will seek help and advice from members of the legal fraternity whom I will be approaching to move this forward. I also humbly hope for the understanding and support from everyone in Singapore for this effort I am embarking on, regardless of race or religion.”

/TISG

Read also: Cherian George on tudung debate: Gov’t “declares it will align the system with patients who discriminate”

Cherian George on tudung debate: Gov’t “declares it will align the system with patients who discriminate”

 

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