The option for nurses to wear a hijab if they want to has been on the drawing board for a long time, and there have been many dialogues and discussions with the Government over the years. I have been involved in some of the discussions.
Nothing is finalised, and there can still be further changes until a final decision is made. But I applaud the brave move by the Government and I know there are good reasons.
Because this is a sensitive and emotive issue, the discussions have been held behind closed doors, with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and other relevant agencies actively involved in providing input.
I am very surprised that some are questioning whether such discussions ever took place. Three senior clerics (Ustaz Ali Mohamed, Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Hassan and Ustaz Pasuni Maulan) have come forward to testify that they were involved and provided details. We should put to rest such unwanted speculation, which is not healthy and definitely not done in good faith. We should focus on the greater good.
There have also been comments made about what Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said in Parliament last month and the statements made by Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam at a Religious Rehabilitation Group dialogue.
Mr Masagos advised the Malay/Muslim community to manage its expectations on this matter as Singapore is a secular society. He also said that the Government is empathetic and indicated that it will review its position on the issue.
This is no different from the Government's previous statements on this matter.
Mr Shanmugam has publicly clarified what is being discussed and provided guidance.
The Government has always carefully juggled the interests of the community. It is never easy when it comes to race and religion.
History shows us that so many countries have been violently torn apart due to race or religion. We should not allow anyone to drive a wedge into our natural fault lines and break us apart.
Abdul Halim Kader
Singapore Malay Youth Library Association (Taman Bacaan)