The requirement to wear the songkok
and tudung for non-muslims during official functions at the Palace -
Calls on the Menteri Besar to advise the palace to
take into consideration the sensitivity of non-Malays and non-Muslims
by Ngeh Koo Ham
(Ipoh, Saturday): The Perak Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali is reported in todayís newspapers that the requirement for non-Malays to wear the songkok during the swearing in of the State Executive Councilors before the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah on Wednesday (31/3/2004) was the dress code set by the palace.
I would like to inform the Menteri Besar that the State Secretariat had also informed the DAP State Assemblywoman for Jelapang, Mdm Hee Yit Foong that she was required to wear the tudung when the same requirement was not stated in the invitation card.
Having observed His Royal Highness, the Sultan of Perak since my days as a law student in the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur when he was then the Lord President, I have always admired him as a very learned, wise, fair and open minded person. These we can see from the way he carries himself, the speeches he made at the various functions and judgments that he had made during his long tenure as a judge at the Judiciary. I really consider him of a man of substance.
Her Royal Highness the Sultanah also does not wear the tudung.
I do not see how His Royal Highness could have set the said dress code for non-Muslims. I believe the dress code could have been set by the palace officials after consultation with the State Government.
In our democratic system of Government it is the duty of the State Government to advise the palace whether such dress code is not suitable for non-muslims.
I agree with the Menteri Besar that wearing the songkok does not make a person a muslim and neither would a Malay wearing traditional costumes of other races and use the chopsticks to eat become a non-muslim but the issue we must consider here is whether the adoption of anotherís cultural practices was done voluntarily or by compulsion. Forcing another to adopt oneís cultural practices is definitely against human rights and the fundamental liberties guaranteed under our Federal Constitution.
The State Government and the palace must be sensitive to the fact Malaysia is a multi racial and multi-religious country. Many Malaysians still consider the wearing of anotherís costumes as a sell out of their race and culture. This is true to the Chinese, Indians and the Malays alike. The same apply to the other minority races in Malaysia. No thanks to the racial politics played by the BN all these years.
I hope the Menteri Besar will support the mutual respect stand of DAP so that the nation will be more united rather be divided by the abovesaid issue. I call on him to advise the palace accordingly.
* Ngeh Koo Ham, DAP Perak Chairman