YOURSAY | ‘This is truly the crux of the issue, the substance above form.’
COMMENT | House rules and dress codes
ManOnTheStreet: Multi-award-winning playwright and director Fa Abdul, you hit the nail on the head with this article. All I hope for is that the Inspector-General of Police Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani and his higher-ranking officers, in fact, all those in positions of power, read this, and have the humility to understand the message.
As you wrote: “It is time to shift the focus from the ordinary Malaysians and our choices of attire and start observing our 1.2 million public servants working in public offices and their quality of services. Are the services even up to par?”
This is truly the crux of the issue, the substance above form. What are the priorities of the nation? Are we to become a nation that prioritises dress codes over “getting the job done”? Superficial appearances over inner core values of an individual?
While dress can be relevant in some situations, applying compulsion in situations where it is not a priority surely reflects the superficiality of our values as a nation.
Cogito Ergo Sum: Yes, spot on! We are the public. Those in public service are ‘public servants’!
But in reality, it’s the reverse. Try renewing your passport. Eight out of 10 times, you are treated as if the officer on duty is doing you a favour. Mind you, you are paying a hefty fee for that passport.
The writer said it so well. The top cop got it wrong.
The need for courtesy and upholding moral values is on the public servant and not on us who are seeking and paying for the various services, including making a police report on any issue.
BluePanther4725: Indeed, Fa is right. It’s all about a mutual respect. What’s wrong for you may be right for the other person. If you think wearing shorts is indecent, the other person may think it is comfortable and convenient. We can only follow our values and have no right to impose our value system on others.
Different races and religions have different value systems. Even the majority race cannot impose their values on the minority races. It’s even more so in government offices as the government should be neutral and respect people of all races.
Imposing a dress code in government offices is wrong and it’s bullying. It’s okay if dress codes are imposed in places of worship. But not in any public offices or facilities.
Mazilamani: Mahatma Gandhi was welcomed by the British Raj though dressed in ‘dhoti’ and VT Sambathan was attired in a ‘veshti’ when he joined the Malayan delegation for Independence Talks. Tunku Abdul Rahman accepted the traditional attire of the Indian minister. The British government did not impose any harassing conditions.
When people visit other countries, they want to feel free. Europeans used to cold climates want to soak in the heat or warm climate by wearing shorts or something comfortable. These same people when visiting places of worship will readily observe the suitable dress code. They know what is appropriate when visiting different places. Malaysians are familiar with all the dress codes.
Unless it is a situation of emergency or urgency like the lady who went to two different police stations to make a police report and got stopped at the second station.
There must be some flexibility unless someone walks into a police station in swimming trunks or a bikini.
Sensibility must prevail, and we cannot see everything within limited understanding or vision. Malaysia is 65 years old, and we should have come out of our limitations by now.
6th Generation Immigrant: Whatever and wherever the dress code that is “instituted” by the government, this recent case simply reveals this – what’s generally accepted by the public (outside government offices) is not acceptable at government offices and in this case, a specific police station even enforcing that uncertain rule.
The general intelligence of such enforcers can also always be questioned – do they know how to weigh in or use discretion or intelligence even? It’s not the specific dress code that had forced this issue (like many others before this), it’s that dress code that’s still generally not acceptable to all of society but still enforced by the government because it had approached this concept through a religious lens.
One can be sure that if public dressing (up to modern-day dresses without any religious tint) is used and re-evaluated into the dress codes, the gatekeeper and the IGP would not be required to use discretion.
One can even bet its bottom dollar, no Malay, Chinese, Indian and other races will appear in bikinis or fully covered swimsuits to make police reports unless truly urgent or necessary.
OMG!: The essence of good manners is that everyone is the same. Rich or poor, famous or unknown, highly educated or with little schooling, of any race, gender or sexual orientation, you treat them all with the same courtesy and respect.
Paradoxically, imposing a dress code creates opportunities for rudeness in dealing with guests. Anyone who visits any government office including a police station, is first, a guest of that place. An honoured guest, to be treated with utmost respect and civility.
To tell the guest “We have a dress code so go home and change!” is not just rude and uncivil, it is barbaric. It is unworthy of any culture, let alone Malay or Malaysian culture! As Fa well stated, nobody wants to go to any government office, least of all the police station.
To be told to go home and change is like shunning that individual as if she had some horrible disease. This is not a sign of good governance. It is rude inhumanity dressed up as courtesy and morality.
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