5-star hotels also operate in the Middle East but there is no issue with Muslim women wearing a headscarf there
By S Vell Paari
I refer to a recent statement issued by the Malaysian Association of Hotels chairman Samuel Cheah Swee Hee who said that Muslim women are not being allowed to wear the hijab (headscarf) when working at hotels and this policy has been practiced in international hotel chains for a long time.
In addition, Cheah added that there are many other employment opportunities for Muslim employees including working in the backhouse or choosing to work with one of the many hotels that incorporate the headscarf in its uniform.
First of all, I find the statement by Cheah being irresponsible and bordering on racism against the Muslim community in Malaysia. He is effectively telling the Muslim ladies of this country to go and find work in another hotel if they can’t adhere to the no headscarf policy.
May I remind Cheah that Malaysia is a multi-racial country and any form of discrimination against any religion will not be tolerated.
In addition, this headscarf ban is unfair and discriminatory to Muslim women. What the Malaysian Association of Hotels is doing is discriminating against Muslim women by not allowing them to work at 5-star hotels just because of their religion requirement and believes.
I have traveled to various other countries around the world and have seen many Muslim women wearing a headscarf at 5-star hotels and there has never been any issue.
One’s professionalism does not drop just because one is wearing a headscarf and observing her religion requirement.
Furthermore, if the Malaysian Association of Hotels chairman Cheah is concerned that we are becoming too conservative by allowing our Muslim women to wear headscarf at hotels, he shall have a look at our first point of entry i.e. our airports where we have Muslim women wearing their headscarf at the immigration counters.
There has never been any issue on this and until now no tourists, upon seeing our women immigration staff wearing a headscarf. decided to not enter Malaysia.
It has to also be noted that if the Malaysian Association of Hotels is so concerned of the SOP of international 5-star hotels, they shall also start paying 5-star wages to local Malaysian employees to match international standards and match what is being paid in London or New York or elsewhere.
I would also like to remind the Malaysian Association of Hotels that these 5-star hotels also operate in the Middle East but there is no issue with Muslim women wearing a headscarf there. So why is it an issue in Malaysia?
Previously the people of this country were upset with a launderette owner who listed that only Malays could visit his launderette and used the services there. We were opposed to this discriminatory action taken by the launderette owner.
Therefore it is now also time for us to oppose this blatant discrimination against Muslim women in Malaysia by the Malaysian Association of Hotels.
Finally I call upon the government to request the Malaysian Association of Hotels to disclose which 5- star hotels in this country that do not allow Muslim women to wear a headscarf.
There is no place for discrimination against any religion in this country, especially on women whom are just observing the religion requirements.
S Vell Paari is the treasurer-general of MIC