Malaysian woman told to cover up her arms before entering Ipoh City Council

Eunice Chai, 32, a logistician, was stopped by security guards for wearing a sleeveless high-collar blouse and jeans.
Eunice Chai, 32, a logistician, was stopped by security guards for wearing a sleeveless high-collar blouse and jeans. PHOTO: THE STAR/NEWS ASIA NETWORK

IPOH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) -A woman who was wearing a sleeveless blouse was asked to cover her arms before entering the City Council building in Ipoh.

This incident came amid a controversy over dressing sparked by recent cases where women were told to cover up their legs at local government offices and a hospital.

Eunice Chai, a 32-year-old logistician, was stopped by security guards for wearing a sleeveless high-collar blouse and jeans. She said she was at the council to apply for a business licence when one of the guards on duty commented on the "lack of sleeves" of her blouse.

"I was with a friend at the time, and thankfully he had a jacket in his car so he passed it to me at the entrance.

"I thought what I was wearing is considered decent since my legs are all covered up, but I didn't expect this treatment here as well," she said.

Chai said it did not make sense to turn people away for not covering up if they were appropriately dressed.

"The local authorities should also respect other cultures," she added.

Chai said based on the dress code poster placed at the door, the appropriate dressing for non-Muslims is a long dress with elbow-length sleeves.

"The weather is very hot right now, and I don't think many Chinese would wear like that when they go out," she said.

The poster for dress code of both sexes at the entrance of the council's building showed men in a formal shirt with sleeves, or blazer and tie, while the women in a long formal dress.

Those with sleeveless tank-tops, shorts, short skirts, and slippers will not be allowed in.

There have been several reported cases where women in Malaysia were told they had violated the dress code and were asked to cover up.

Last month, a woman in her 50s wearing a knee-length skirt was told to change before entering a Penang court complex. In another case, two women were forced to wear sarongs before they were allowed to enter the Selangor State Secretariat building. In yet another case last month, a woman was reportedly stopped by security at the Sungai Buloh Hospital's gate for wearing shorts.