Federal Territories Umno Youth leader Razlan Rafii has trained his guns on the Malaysian Hotels Association (MHA) amid the controversy surrounding hotels which do not allow their Muslim staff to wear headscarves at the front desk.

He was responding to MHA chairman Samuel Cheah’s remarks concerning the policy, which has sparked outrage.

“Don’t give face to this association which supports hotels that discriminate female Muslim workers,” said Razlan in a media statement this afternoon.

He said the association has been given numerous privileges but its support for the headscarf policy warranted an evaluation of its direction.

“The association should instead be more open to the Islamic culture in Malaysia as the majority of Malaysians are Muslims. The direction should be to introduce Malaysia as a destination for Muslim tourists.

“This act of discrimination shows an anti-Islam attitude and the government must scrutinise associations which are anti-Islam,” he added.

Razlan also supported Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz’s branding of the policy as insolent and urged for the licences of the hotels involved to be revoked.

In a Nov 11 report in The Star Online, the MAH president was quoted as stating that the uniform policy has been practiced in international hotel chains for a long time.

“This policy is practiced in international hotel chains that use the same standard operating procedure on uniforms in all the hotels in their chain globally.

“The problem is everyone wants to join the five-star global hotel brand, but they do not want to follow the uniform policy that is their worldwide standard,” added Cheah.

He was commenting on the Union Network International-Malaysia Labour Centre (UNI-MLC) highlighting complaints received from female hotel employees that their management does not allow them to wear headscarves at work.

UNI-MLC also said students in hospitality and tourism courses have also been instructed to remove their headscarves before going on internships or the company would not hire them.

As a result, some employees had no choice but to remove their headscarf during work before putting it back on after their shift ended.

Yesterday, MAH Penang chapter president Khoo Boo Lim claimed that the association’s initial statement on the matter was “slightly taken out of context” but did not elaborate.

He also clarified that hotels in Penang do not have such a policy.

MEANWHILE, according to The Star:


KUALA LUMPUR: Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz has slammed the discriminatory policy of prohibiting frontliners in the hotel industry.

“It is rude and irresponsible. We have laws, and if it’s true that this is an instruction, it means that they have gone against our Constitution,” said Nazri.

He questioned why international hotel chains are operating in Malaysia if they bar staff from wearing headscarves.

“Is being naked better than wearing a headscarf when sitting in front of a counter,” he questioned at a press conference at the Parliament lobby on Tuesday (Nov 14).

 “Come to our country, respect our laws. Sixty percent of Malaysians are Muslims, of course the headscarf is a norm here,” said Nazri.

“We know that big hotel chains come from countries like the United States or United Kingdom, which are countries that emphasise human rights,” he added.

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Nazri pointed out that Malaysia ranked 12th in the world in attracting tourists, and said that international hotel chains that were unwilling to conform to the country’s values were not welcomed.

“If hotel chains want to operate here, they must follow our ways. Otherwise, there are other hotels to fill that gap, such as local hotels,” he added.

He added that the Tourism Ministry does not have the power to revoke the licenses of hotels involved in discriminatory practices, as this falls under the purview of the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT).

“So, the KPKT must be strict and not allow such companies to operate here,” said Nazri.

On Nov 6, the Union Network International-Malaysia Labour Centre (UNI-MLC) said in a statement that it had received numerous complaints from female hotel employees saying that their management does not allow them to wear a headscarf to work.

On Nov 11, Malaysia Hotels Association (MAH) told The Star that this uniform policy has been practiced in international hotel chains for a long time.

MAH chairman Samuel Cheah Swee Hee said that there are many other employment opportunities for Muslim employees including working in the backhouse or choosing to work with one of the many hotels that incorporate the headscarf in its uniform.

“The problem is everyone wants to join the 5-star global hotel brand, but they do not want to follow the uniform policy that is their worldwide standard,” Cheah added.