KUALA LUMPUR - A ban on frontline staff wearing headscarfs allegedly practised by some international hotel chains in Malaysia is discriminatory and disrespectful, said Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz on Tuesday (nov 14) according to Malaysian media.
He said such hotels should not be allowed to operate in the country, The Star Online reported.
"It is rude and irresponsible. We have laws, and if it's true that this is an instruction, it means that they have gone against our Constitution," the report quoted Nazri as saying at a press conference at the Parliament lobby on Tuesday.
Nazri was responding to revelations last week by the Union Network International-Malaysia Labour Centre (UNI-MLC) that it had received complaints from female hotel employees saying that their management forbid them from wear headscarves to work.
Malaysia Hotels Association (MAH) said that such a policy on employees' attire has been practiced at international hotel chains for a long time.
MAH chairman Samuel Cheah said such policies were the "worldwide standard" at five-star hotel brands, andMuslim employees who insist on wearing headscarves could choose to work in non-frontline roles or at other hotels.
"The problem is everyone wants to join the five-star global hotel brands, but they do not want to follow the uniform policy that is their worldwide standard," Cheah added.
On Tuesday Nazri said international hotel chains should respect Malaysian customs since they are operating in Malaysia.
"Is being naked better than wearing a headscarf when sitting in front of a counter," he said according to The Star.
"Come to our country, respect our laws. Sixty per cent of Malaysians are Muslims, of course the headscarf is a norm here."
He said that international hotel chains that were unwilling to conform to the country's values were not welcomed, calling on the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) to revoke the licences of such companies.
"The KPKT must be strict and not allow such companies to operate here," Nazri was cited by The Star as saying.