Workers' Party calls for public dialogue on hijab issue

In a statement on Wednesday, Nov 6, 2013, Aljunied GRC MP Muhammad Faisal Abdul Manap (above) said the WP believes the current debate on the hijab should not be politicised and a workable consensus was best achieved through public dialogue within the
In a statement on Wednesday, Nov 6, 2013, Aljunied GRC MP Muhammad Faisal Abdul Manap (above) said the WP believes the current debate on the hijab should not be politicised and a workable consensus was best achieved through public dialogue within the Muslim community among the various communities and with the elected government. -- FILE PHOTO: NADZRI EUNOS

The Workers' Party (WP) has called for public dialogue to achieve a "workable consensus" on the issue of uniformed public officers wearing the hijab or Muslim headscarf, adding that these discussions should also involve the heads of the uniformed professions.

In a statement on Wednesday, Aljunied GRC MP Muhammad Faisal Abdul Manap said the WP believes the current debate on the hijab should not be politicised and a workable consensus was best achieved through public dialogue within the Muslim community. among the various communities and with the elected government.

"The discussions should be carried on with an open mind, and include the input of the heads of uniformed professions on the feasibility of accommodating the wearing of the hijab in their organisations, subject to considerations such as operational exigencies," said Mr Faisal in the party's first comment on the debate over the hijab.

The statement came a day after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met the People's Action Party's Malay-Muslim MPs to discuss the Government's response to recent calls to let nurses don the tudung.

Mr Faisal said the WP recognises the "genuine desire and aspirations of Muslim Singaporeans who seek a change in government policy to allow the wearing of the hijab in the public sector's uniformed professions". The party has observed that Singaporeans have grown accustomed to working Muslim women who choose to don the hijab in various capacities such as in government offices, nurses in some private hospitals, teachers and National Day Parade participants.

"We recognise that good relations exist among our communities in Singapore, and believe that this will decide how far each group can practice their religion in an environment of tolerance and mutual respect," he added.

The WP also praised the Muslim community's "overwhelmingly rational response" on the issue so far, saying it augurs well for positive discussions between the community, government and uniformed services going forward.