Singapore announced that Muslim nurses in the republic will be allowed to wear a ‘tudung’ (hijab) along with their uniforms in the public healthcare sector starting in November.
The decision is announced by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong while delivering his National Day Rally (NDR) Speech on August 29 2021 at Mediacorp.
Lee hopes this decision can be accepted by all parties with the right spirit so that it can be one of the factors that strengthen their shared commitment to Singapore’s multiracial and multi-religious community.
The Singapore government made this careful adjustment with the aim that racial and religious harmony in the country can be well maintained. This approach has been used for years in the country and has proven to work well for them.
Previously, Lee had an intense discussion regarding “tudung’ (hijab) with several Muslim leaders in 2014.
Lee said that they gave him an understanding of the importance of the hijab to the community. He also explained the government’s perspective and the reason behind the previous policies to them.
The status quo for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Home Team, and other uniformed services must be maintained, says Lee.
Lee explained saying that they are impartial and secular arms of the State. They wield armed force and enforce the laws of Singapore. They must always be seen to be doing so without fear or favor.
Therefore, everyone wears the same uniform, says Lee.
On the other hand, the opposing considerations are more finely balanced for the nurses in the hospitals.
On one side, the community’s desires. On the other side, the government’s concerns – both national and specific.
The prime minister told Muslim leaders in 2014 that government policy in the healthcare sector was not set in stone.
The first step that will be taken before they change their position, they would make sure that everyone, in this case, both Muslim and non-Muslims, understood and accepted the change.
Lee said the government has been watching the situation closely since then.
From there, the government sees the interaction between two races remains comfortable. No-Muslim has become more used to seeing Muslim women wearing hijabs.
Lastly, Lee said younger Singaporeans are more accepting of racial and religious differences.