15 March 2023
Press statement by Wanita MCA National Chairperson Wong You Fong
Wanita MCA: No legal provisions for dress code – Govt agencies should not wilfully impose their own guidelines
It remains unfortunate that certain government authorities are focused on form rather than substance ie visitors denied entry into government premises due to supposed non-conformation of dress codes - the latest being a young lady involved in a car accident who was disallowed from lodging a police report at the Gombak police station. Despite donning a hemline skirt which fell below her knees and a jacket, the guards had deemed her dressing as inappropriate.
In another dress code debacle at Bangunan SSM in Ipoh, the Companies Commission of Malaysia in its media statement, expressed regret but stands by its dress code instruction over a lady barred from entry because of the length of her knee-length dress. As the said lady was decently attired, there is no reason to refuse her entry.
Meanwhile, the police force are the guardians for safety and security. They are trained to assist any individuals who approach them. Seriously, do police stations expect anyone who is pursued by triads, armed robbers and assailants, abductors, terrorists to search for long pants to wear when at the spur of the criminal act, they are fleeing towards safety at the police station? Do the police expect victims of sexual assault, incest, domestic violence whose clothes may have been ripped away from them to shower first, be all fragrantly puffed up and wash away all bodily fluid evidence to be accepted as having fulfilled dress codes for entry?
Heed the wise words of Tan Sri Musa Hassan. Following the controversy over the Kajang police station refusing a lady entry over dress codes compulsion, the retired Inspector General of Police stressed that the police should not be “chasing” away people who intend to lodge a report as it was their duty to help the public. He had also recommended Bukit Aman to issue a directive to all police stations, instructing them to allow anyone to lodge a police report regardless of their attire (Free Malaysia Today, 1 Feb 2023).
Nobody would appear at a police station unless there is a valid reason. By accepting their reports regardless of attire, the police would be practising their slogan “Sedia Berkhidmat” (Ready to Serve) and shore up confidence in the authorities. At critical junctures, action by the police after accepting any reports filed can save lives and property, apprehend wrongdoers or collect evidence.
In a parliamentary reply in 2015, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dato’ Seri Azalina Othman had clarified that here is no dress code for the public when dealing with government departments and agencies and that only civil servants were subjected to dress codes which would be updated from time to time. She had also emphasised that the government will continue to serve the public who wear inappropriate clothes. As there are no relevant laws which shows a clear provision under any Act to stipulate dress codes, government departments and agencies should not willfully impose their own guidelines unto the public.
Overzealousness in enforcing dress codes reflects lamely on government authorities as being more keen to coerce one’s values unto others instead of serving citizens and the public, a noble mission that they have sworn to undertake. There is no reason to deny service to the public based on their opinion of what attire is appropriate.