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Discrimination of any form has no place in Singapore, says Halimah Yacob over Tangs incident

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·2-min read
President Halimah Yacob delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations in Beijing, on 15 May, 2019. (AP file photo)
President Halimah Yacob delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations in Beijing, on 15 May, 2019. (AP file photo)

SINGAPORE — In a strongly worded post on her personal social media account, President Halimah Yacob on Thursday (20 August) spoke against discrimination “of any form and against anyone”, saying it has “has no place at all” in Singapore’s society.

She noted that discrimination at the workplace is “particularly disturbing because it deprives the person affected from earning a living”, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic where such incidents will exacerbate the anxiety of those with concerns over jobs and livelihoods.

“People should be assessed solely on their merits and their ability to do a job and nothing else,” Halimah added in her Facebook post.

“Diversity is our strength and our society has already embraced it. I hope that employers too will fully embrace diversity at the workplace and do their part to uphold the values of a fair and open society.”

Halimah was responding to questions by reporters during her visit to non-profit group AMP about an incident involving a Malay woman who was asked by a department store here to remove her hijab while at work.

Nurin Jazlina Mahbob, 20, a part-time handbag promoter working at a pop-up booth at the Tangs department store, said she was asked by its staff to remove her head scarf shortly into her first day on the job in late July.

In her Facebook post, Halimah said that Tangs has since said it will remove such restrictions and allow the hijab to be worn at work.

Her comments come a day after Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad urged employers to regularly review policies and practices they set and take into consideration the views and sensitivities of various stakeholders, such as employees, customers and business partners.

“Religious attire should generally be allowed at workplaces, unless employers have uniform, or dress code requirements which are suited to the nature of their work, or for operational and safety reasons,” the newly-appointed Deputy Leader of the House said in his Facebook post on Wednesday.

He added that another major retail store, without disclosing its name, had reviewed its uniform policy to include headgear after receiving feedback from its stakeholders, according to the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP).

As for the current case involving Tangs, the TGFEP has reached out to the parties involved and is currently looking into this matter, Zaqy said.

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