Singapore – Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam clarified on Tuesday (Mar 23) that the Government can “see good reasons why nurses should be allowed to wear the tudung if they choose to do so”.
Mr Shanmugam was the guest speaker at a dialogue with the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) on Mar 23 at the Khadijah Mosque in Geylang Road.
He touched on the Government’s position on nurses wearing the tudung, noting the same issue was discussed six months ago on Aug 31, 2020.
“It was a closed-door meeting, and I could be frank,” said Mr Shanmugam in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
“We can see good reasons why nurses should be allowed to wear tudung if they choose to do so.” He noted this was being discussed internally and that “there is likely to be a change from the current position”.
Three of the Muslim religious leaders, Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Hassan, president of the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas) and Pergas’ elders’ council members Ustaz Ali Mohamed and Ustaz Pasuni Maulan, were present in both meetings. They confirmed Mr Shanmugam had made the same remarks then.
The subject was raised recently in Parliament when Workers’ Party (WP) Member of Parliament (MP) Faisal Manap suggested that Muslim nurses wear the tudung as part of their uniform.
Mr Faisal proposed the Government allow the tudung to be worn as part of the nurses’ uniform. He noted how some Muslim women could not serve as nurses because they could not wear headscarves at work.
In his response, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said that the uniform policy in public service could not be tilted towards any religious belief.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Maliki Osman joined Mr Masagos in highlighting that Singapore’s approach to dealing with sensitive issues, such as wearing the tudung or headscarf in certain professions, is to discuss them behind closed doors to avoid serious ramifications, which could impact religious harmony.
“Minister Masagos was speaking in Parliament, and it has been the Government’s practice to be very careful about how remarks are made in public,” commented Mr Shanmugam in his post.
“He (Mr Masagos) had said that discussions were ongoing and that the Government was empathetic to the desire of some nurses to wear the tudung.”
Mr Shanmugam confirmed discussions were ongoing. He added that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong would also meet with community leaders.
“We will announce the decision when the discussions are complete.” /TISG
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