Terengganu to implement dress code for tourists, especially women

Kampung Cina, a row of old shophouses built over the centuries in various styles from art deco to southern Chinese, located in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysian. Tourists heading to the northern Malaysian state will soon need to comply with a new
Kampung Cina, a row of old shophouses built over the centuries in various styles from art deco to southern Chinese, located in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysian. Tourists heading to the northern Malaysian state will soon need to comply with a new dress code requiring them to be "decently" attired. -- ST FILE PHOTO 

Going for a holiday to the popular island resorts of Redang and Perhentian in Terengganu? Remember to cover up, especially if you are a woman, or risk running foul of a new dress code by the state government.

The Star online reported on Sunday that authorities in the rural, conservative east coast state would soon release the guidelines to Malaysian travel agents and Malaysian tourism bureau offices in neighbouring countries, including Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.

The report cited the Terengganu government news portal Teganukita as stating that the guidelines were targeted at tourists, especially female tourists.

The Terengganu Islamic and Malay Heritage Council helped drafted the dress code, according to state Tourism and Cultural Affairs chairman, Datuk Mohd Jidin Shafee.

Datuk Mohd Jidin, however, was quoted as saying he was certain the new ruling would not deter tourists from visiting the state.

He said legal action would only be taken against offenders after they had been served with a warning letter. He did not specify what kind of legal action the recalcitrant could expect to receive.

"Before legal action is imposed on women who wear revealing attire in public, to the point that the dressing causes fervency (kegairahan), a letter with guidelines will be issued," Mohd Jidin said, according to The Star.

The Star said a meeting would be held on Monday to further clarify the guidelines.

It cited a source as saying the authorities would not require men and women to comply 100 per cent with the Islamic dress code. However, visitors and locals must be "decently" dressed.

Those who fail to do so would be called for counselling, the source said. In the case of underage perpetrators, parents would also be called in to attend counselling sessions.

Terengganu, which was ruled by the Islamic Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) from 1999 and 2004, passed hudud law - the Islamic penal code which prescribes punishments like amputations for theft - in 2002, but has never enforced it.

It is now governed by the ruling Barisan Nasional, led by Prime Minster Najib Tun Razak's Umno, which hung on to power in the 2013 general election with help from rural Malay voters.

seokhwai@sph.com.sg