Third 'sarong' incident in Malaysia as woman wearing shorts is barred from entering hospital

The woman who had to don a towel around her waist in order to enter a public hospital.
The woman who had to don a towel around her waist in order to enter a public hospital. PHOTO: THE STAR

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A third "sarong" incident has been making waves over the Internet.

This time, a woman had to don a towel around her waist in order to enter a public hospital.

The woman was reportedly stopped by security at Sungai Buloh hospital visitor's gate on June 16 for wearing shorts.

The woman's father then borrowed a patient's towel from one of the hospital wards and brought it back outside for the woman to wrap around herself.

She was allowed into the compound only after covering her knees with the borrowed towel. It is believed that when questioned, the guards answered that the ruling was an instruction from the Health Ministry.

Pictures of the woman donning on a towel around her waist in order to enter the hospital have gone viral on social media.

Among the images circulated was one of the woman wearing a yellow towel standing in front of a sign which listed the hospital dress code. Among the prohibited items of clothing are sleeveless tank tops, short shorts or short skirts. Long pants are allowed. The dress codes for both men and women are also available on the hospital's website.

The hospital has apologised over the incident.

Hospital director Khalid Ibrahim said it is neither the Health Ministry nor hospital's policy to stop anybody from going into the hospital based on their attire.

"We apologise for the incident. It shouldn't have happened. We do not bar any visitors from entering the hospital because of what they are wearing.

"However, we encourage the public to dress decently when visiting patients," he told The Star when contacted on Tuesday.

Dr Khalid said there may have been some "miscommunication" involving the hospital guard, who allegedly barred the woman from entering the hospital.

"We have lodged a complaint with the security guard company about the guard in question," he said.

But the woman's father still seemed miffed over the incident, telling The Star on Tuesday that there was no telling where a dress code may be imposed next, perhaps even by the roadside.

"I don't mind if the dress code was for offices or for official functions, but this is different as it is a public setting. They should not do this. It is illogical," said the 52-year-old father who only wished to be known as Annan.

"If they can impose such a ruling in a hospital then they can impose it by anywhere, even by the roadside," said Mr Annan, who wished to know the reason behind the dress code.

He said that he did not even know there was a dress code in place.

" I read about the Road Transport Department (JPJ) 'sarong' incident but figured that it was different because that was in an office. I did not expect such a ruling from a hospital.

"I was angry as I had already arrived at the hospital. They could have given us a chance and we would not have repeated it again.

"It was the only free weekend we had and we came from Kuala Lumpur to Sungai Buloh to visit a relative," he added.

Even though the hospital's dress code was available on the hospital's website, Mr Annan said that the ruling should be more prominent as not everyone was tech-savvy.

"Even if they want to implement a dress code, they should let the public know in advance, perhaps publish it in a newspaper or something.

"Educated people can go to the website and find out but people like me, we don't know how to go to websites. Perhaps give a timeframe for others to get used to the ruling too," he added.

Mr Annan pointed out that his daughter was singled out as there were many others who did not follow the dress code.

"I pointed out to the guard that a few people wearing slippers and shorts were let through. The guard said that was fine as the shorts touched the knee but kept quiet on the slippers. Why is it that they are only going for skirts?" he asked.

He said that when he pressed the guards for an answer, they said he could lodge a complaint via the hospital's suggestion box.

However, Mr Annan said that he had accepted the hospital's apology over the matter.

On Monday, two women, a journalist and Selangor resident, were forced to wear sarongs to enter the Selangor State Secretariat building.

In another incident on June 8, a woman was denied entry into the Gombak Road Transport Department (JPJ) office for wearing a skirt above her knee and was asked to wear a sarong for service.