The Chief Secretary to the Government must immediately act against departmental heads who have breached the law when they prescribe how the public should be attired before service can be rendered to them

The Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Bin Ali must take immediate action against heads of departments who acted outside their powers in prescribing the attires the public must wear before services can be rendered to them.

I have received a few complaints that some government offices now prescribe dress code to be worn by the pubic before they can be allowed entrance to the offices for services to be rendered to them. Heads of departments do not have powers to make such rules and clearly have acted unlawfully and illegally.

Cabinet ministers and government officers derived their powers from the laws passed by Parliament. Acts of Parliament often give powers to ministers to make subsidiary legislations or regulations. However, if a minister make regulations out side the scope of powers (ultra vires) conferred by the Act of Parliament, such regulations are illegal and void. I know of no law giving powers to government officers to prescribe the attire that must be worn by the public before service can be rendered to them. If ministers’ regulations are illegal and void if they are not conferred such powers, a fortiori (all the more) rules made by departmental heads requiring the public to observe certain attire are illegal and void. Such departmental heads have clearly breached the law and action must be taken against them.

The situation is different with regard to attires for school children or uniform bodies as there are laws governing their attires. Attires for associations and private organisations are also different because their members agree to the rules governing them.

No one is above the law. The royalties, the Prime minister, member of Parliament and all other persons are subjected to law. They will be punished if they breached the law. Therefore, heads of departments who breached the law must be punished. Civil servants must be reminded that they are public servants as their salaries are paid by the public. They are accountable to the public. A farmer in shorts and singlet or an orang Asli in their traditional clothings are entitled to be served by public servants. A poor person who has no means to buy a decent attire is also entitled to be served by public servants. A public servant remains a servant and he does not become a lord over the public.

Unless a person is a public nuisance which is an offence under the penal code, public service must be rendered to all. Even, if a person is a public nuisance, the authority to act against such a person is with the police and not any other public servant.

The Chief Secretary to the Government must remind heads of department to focus on improving the poor performances of their respective departments which are aplenty. As examples, the Immigration, the Road Transport and the Human Resource offices limit the number of persons they will serve per day though there are huge backlog of cases that need their attention. Action must taken to ensure that the public are served efficiently.

Ngeh Koo Ham
DAP MPs' Spokesperson for Law and Parliament & MP for Beruas
Media statement by Ngeh Koo Ham in Ipoh on Friday, 20th May 2022