PM Lee thanks Malay community leaders for attending tudung dialogue

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (in pink) interacting with (from left) Madam Bibi Jan Ayub, Habib Hassan Alatas and Syed Isa Semait during a two-hour dialogue over the Muslim headscarf held at the Old Police Academy, on Jan 25, 2014 . Prime Minister L
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (in pink) interacting with (from left) Madam Bibi Jan Ayub, Habib Hassan Alatas and Syed Isa Semait during a two-hour dialogue over the Muslim headscarf held at the Old Police Academy, on Jan 25, 2014 . Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has written to thank the Malay-Muslim community leaders and representatives who attended a closed-door dialogue on the Muslim headscarf, or tudung, last month. -- FILE PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has written to thank the Malay-Muslim community leaders and representatives who attended a closed-door dialogue on the Muslim headscarf, or tudung, last month.

In a Facebook post on Monday night, he said that one of the oldest to attend was Ustaz Ibrahim Kassim, an 87-year-old religious leader who went despite not being well.

"Ustaz Ibrahim is a learned and respected religious leader. He teaches at mosques and Malay/Muslim organisations, counsels couples and prisoners, and is active in the Religious Rehabilitation Group. He is also a Hakam (arbitrator) at the Syariah Court," wrote the Prime Minister.

Mr Lee added that "Ustaz's commitment to the community is deeply inspiring" and that he looks forward "to working with him and like-minded community leaders to build an inclusive and harmonious Singapore".

The closed-door dialogue with over 100 Malay community leaders was arranged after the question of whether the tudung can be worn by nurses, and other public officers in uniform, was raised last year and created a swirl of debate.

In the thank you letter, which he also posted on his Facebook page, PM Lee repeated his message at the dialogue that while he fully appreciates the aspirations of the Malay community on the tudung, it is a "delicate matter in a multi-racial, multi-religious society".

"We want to manage it in a way which is overall positive for Muslim Singaporeans, and which strengthens the cohesion and harmony between the different communities," he said.

"That is why I believe it is best to let our practices evolve gradually, at a pace that all Singaporeans are comfortable with."