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Discrimination has no place in S’pore society, says President Halimah; Tangs to allow staff, promoters to wear hijab

SINGAPORE — Discrimination of any form has "no place at all in our society and, most certainly, not at the workplace”. This was what President Halimah Yacob said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Aug 20), as she revealed that Tangs department store has said that it will now allow the hijab or religious headdress to be worn by workers on its premises.

Discrimination has no place in S’pore society, says President Halimah; Tangs to allow staff, promoters to wear hijab

Discrimination at the workplace is particularly disturbing because it deprives the person affected from earning a living, President Halimah Yacob said.

SINGAPORE — Discrimination of any form has “no place at all in our society and, most certainly, not at the workplace”. This was what President Halimah Yacob said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Aug 20), as she revealed that Tangs department store has said that it will now allow the hijab or religious headdress to be worn by workers on its premises.

Mdm Halimah was weighing in on a recent incident reported by TODAY in which a sales promoter at Tangs was asked to remove her hijab to work in the department store.

“Tangs had since said that they would remove such restrictions and will allow the hijab to be worn at work,” she said. 

Condemning any form of discrimination “against anyone”, she added: “People should be assessed solely on their merits and their ability to do a job and nothing else.”

Discrimination at the workplace is particularly disturbing because it deprives the person affected from earning a living, Mdm Halimah said. 

"During this Covid-19 period, when concerns over jobs and livelihoods are greater, incidents of discrimination exacerbate anxieties and people feel threatened.

“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,” she added.

TODAY has reached out to Tangs for comment. 

Mdm Halimah’s post came a day after several Members of Parliament (MPs) gave their views on the incident. 

Among them was Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State for Manpower, who said that employers should regularly review their workplace policies and consider the views and sensitivities of their employees.

‘OVERWHELMED BUT HAPPY’

The incident had gone viral when a 36-year-old business owner, who wanted to be known only as Ms Chin, put up Instagram stories and a Facebook post about it. 

Her part-time employee, Ms Nurin Jazlina Mahbob, 20, said that she was approached by two Tangs managers while she was working at Ms Chin’s pop-up booth in Tangs on July 29. They told her that she had to remove her hijab if she wanted to continue working on the premises.

Ms Chin told TODAY that she is “extremely overwhelmed but happy” by the outcome of the incident and the news reports on it.

“I really thought when the community gave their thoughts on this matter, it would just end there. It didn’t strike me that Members of Parliament and Mdm Halimah would come into the picture and, in the end, make positive action,” she said.

“It's really unexpected but I'm glad that a positive change is coming out of it. I really hope moving forward we don't see such unfair treatment or discrimination in this area.”

Ms Nurin said that she was heartened by Mdm Halimah’s remarks.

“I am grateful that she is sticking up for me and for all of us who have experienced this discrimination and is taking this incident seriously,” she told TODAY. “I am excited that there is change happening and I hope that nobody should experience what I went through."

Ms Nurin added that she hopes people of other religions who wear any form of religious headgear or accessories will also be given the chance to prove their capabilities through their performance on the job and not through their religious attire.

Related topics

Halimah Yacob hijab Tangs discrimination

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