KUALA LUMPUR: Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz described the action of hotel chains prohibiting female employees from wearing hijab, if its true, as “kurang ajar” (rude) and irresponsible.
He said, hotel chains, especially international hotel companies should respect local custom and laws when they enter the country.
"It's rude and irresponsible. When you come our country, be respectful. We have basic laws here, so if it’s true that this was an instruction or an SOP (standard operating procedures), it means that they have gone against our constitution.
"This is a form of discrimination. Why did they come here and then set rules that women can't wear hijab? What's the problem (with wearing hijab)? Is being naked better than covering one's head?" he said at the Dewan Rakyat.
Nazri said this on reports about the policy held by hotel chains prohibiting women employees from wearing headscarves if they are working as frontliners or those who interact directly with guests.
Recently, the Malaysian Labour Centre of the Union Network International revealed that hotel employees had complained about the matter and that it was also happening to hospitality and tourism students applying for internships.
Nazri said no reports have been received by the ministry and that it was hard to believe that international hotel chains have such a policy of not allowing its employees wear the hijab.
"We know that big companies like these came from the US or the UK. Countries like these always emphasise on equality and human rights. If these are the practice in their countries, I don’t expect them to do so in their hotels that are operated in foreign countries," Nazri added.
Reports by ARFA YUNUS, FERNANDO FONG, BEATRICE NITA JAY