Hospitals, police stations and city councils in Malaysia are the moral-police?

18 Feb 2023 12:44pm
Illustrative purposes. (Photo source: 123rf)
Illustrative purposes. (Photo source: 123rf)

Recently a woman was allegedly denied treatment in Kampar Hospital due to her ‘inappropriate attire’. The 21-year old who wore a shorts was apparently turned away from receiving treatment despite her unbearable severe stomach pain. She could hardly walk and was rushed to the hospital's emergency room.

Upon arriving, the medical assistant attending to her said it was improper for the patient to wear shorts and was then ordered to change into longer pants before she could enter the emergency room.

Following that, three days ago (Feb 15), the Perak Health Department released a statement assuring that the hospital has taken the appropriate measures in rectifying the issue with the patient and improved the services at the hospital to ensure an incident like this does not occur again.

The hospital also denied, in a press statement, ever turning away any patient that sought treatment at their facility due to their attire, adding that their staff had brought out an appropriate attire for the patient but she had left the facilities by then.

"Firstly, all patients will be accepted no matter their state, especially during emergencies. Secondly, the medical assistant has been reprimanded and informed that their action was wrong, and warned not to repeat the same mistake in the future. Thirdly, all medical staff are instructed to accept any patient that comes through hospital doors no matter their attire and without any prejudice," the statement reads.

Similarly, another incident early this month saw a woman got barred from entering Kajang Police Station because she was wearing shorts.

The women who wanted to lodge a report following her car accident was denied entry at the main entrance despite wearing a Bermuda shorts which covered her knees.

She shared a picture of what her "inappropriate shorts" looked like on social media, and surpisingly it was a three-quarter bottom that does not seem impolite.

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It was reported yesterday (Feb 17) that the Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail urged public to be modestly dressed when they enter government premises, however, reminded the authorities to perform their duties.

In reference to the police station incident, he told the cops that they must take reports from the public regardless of how the citizen is dressed, adding that his ministry will not compromise on the police’s readiness to accept reports from the public.

There was also another incident, in this month, whereby 60-year old businesswoman was barred from using the elevator in a city council building because her dress that was deemed ‘too short’ despite the length falling way below her knees.

The senior citizen went to the government building to renew her business license and was denied entry into the lift by the city council officer, forcing her to take the stairs despite her leg injury.

A quick chat with a Universiti Malaya lecturer was perplexed with the entire situation, she shared that she too went through similar circumstances.

"When I was pregnant and went to PPUM for my check-up, I was wearing a maternity dress and it went slightly above the knee because my belly was big. I was told not to wear the dress. That was still acceptable because they were polite but a Klinik Kesihatan literally told me off very rudely and abruptly about my maternity dress and reminded me that I too, am a government employee.

"If the dressings are really provocative by revealing bra straps or miniskirts, I think its understandable but people who wear attires up to their knees should not be deemed as 'inappropriate'," said Katherine Babu.

In addition to that, Associate Prof Datin Dr Sabitha Marican from University Malaya said Malaysia is a multi-cultural nation and a polite dress code should be acceptable.

"We live in a multi-cultural country, people can wear whatever they want, as long as its proper (sopan). Just like varsity student, you can wear whatever you want as long as its polite and proper,"she said when contacted.

Should the government officials focus on being a 'moral-police' or be more mindful of a situation first?

The hospital incident - the patient was in the pain, at the police station - the woman had met with a car accident, and the third case - a senior citizen was forced to climb the staircase despite a leg injury.

Is this necessary? And the strange part is all the victims, in the three separate incidents, were actually wearing attires up to knee-length. What are your thoughts?

Priya is a former journalist and now works in public relations.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Sinar Daily.

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