Monday, May 5, 2008


Islam is the official religion in our country and as part of religious practice, malays who are muslims in this country wear the headgear commonly known to us as “songkok”. Many of this headgear, songkok are beautifully designed to include stripes or badges and some could come in different colours, like in dark blue, white, black or in chocolate colour. Seems it is a headgear identified with the malay culture and commonly used by muslims in the country, DAP Sarawak had took the stand that such headgear would not be worn by DAP elected representatives as none of us presently elected are muslims or malay. What we felt in the opening of this sitting of the Dewan this morning is that we should only dress decently suitable to the occasion. At the same time, the ceremonial dress of the Yang Berhormat which comes with the songkok is also very expensive and to have one would be much waste of public fund.

Personally, the songkok is something that could not be forced on us. We have to maintain and to protect our freedom and rights as enshrined in Article 10(a) of the Federal Constitution which provides for freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is a basic human right and should not be lightly taken away from us. Therefore, if the songkok is to be forced on us by the Dewan I would regret to say this could be unconstitutional. The Speaker who himself is a lawyer could be aware of this. Since the wearing of the songkok involves freedom of expression, there is also nothing wrong for any person who is not a muslim to wear the songok, but, it is left to the general public to determine the morality of the matter against the person wearing the songkok if he is not a malay or a muslim.

It has to be clarified that when we as elected representatives took our oath of office in the Dewan, we all swore to protect both the State and Federal Constitutions, so if any person who forces us to wear the songkok then this could also be not correct. This is because freedom of expression which is enshrined in the Federal Constitution is a right in which each and every elected representative should protect and guard against deteriotation. At the same time, it could be contempt of the Dewan if the Speaker may force us to wear the songkok and I hope such an action will not arise.

It really surprised us when Dominique Ng from PKR this time used the songkok. I could not understand his reason behind it as I know that Dominique was very vocal against it when he was ticked off in the Dewan for not wearing the ceremonial dress in full the last time as the ceremonial dress came with the songkok.
When the issue arose in connection with the wearing of the songkok, some Yang Berhormat misleadingly pointed the ceremonial dress as a uniform. This was how the Yang Berhormat of the BN government could mislead the people or could they be ignorant of the difference between a uniform and a ceremonial dress? It has to be clarified that a uniform either gives a right or an authority to the person who wore them while ceremonial dress was associated with dignity and when worn, reflected the status of the person in society. On the other hand, uniform when worn, it gives the person who wore it the right to attend work, to vocational training or classes or when it was associated with work, it gives the person who wore it the autority to perform a legal function such as the authority to arrest a person or to enter a building.
Ceremonial dress may look the same to certain class of persons who wore it, but, on a close look it reflects status by display of medals. Ceremonial dress could only be worn on certain occasions only while uniforms were worn almost everyday.
So BN politicians please do no fool us all the time and not all people are fools!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

agreed. forcing other people from other race and religion to wear songkok is really too much and disrespectful to other races and religion.