Wearing of hijab by staff in uniformed services
Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on wearing of hijab by staff in uniformed services
Parliamentary Sitting: 21 January 2014
Mr Pritam Singh: To ask the Prime Minister if he will consider studying the feasibility of accommodating the wearing of the hijab by Muslim staff with the heads of the uniformed services in their organisations subject to considerations such as operational exigencies.
Written Reply by Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for National Security, Minister in charge of the Civil Service and Minister for Home Affairs
Officers are required to wear uniforms in certain services. Uniforms are to project the common identity of the service, and not just to meet operational requirements. Allowing variations would detract from this. In particular, by disallowing variations for religious reasons, we visibly uphold the secular nature of the Government and reassure citizens that they will receive key services fairly and impartially regardless of race or religion.
The requirement to wear uniforms and not to overtly display religious symbols is a practice in many countries, though the exact form of the rules varies.
The Government has to balance the needs of different groups in our multi-racial and multi-religious society. We have maintained a broad common secular space where we all come together as Singaporeans regardless of race or religion. At the same time, we have allowed each community space to practise its own beliefs, to the greatest extent possible. Fortunately, Singaporeans understand the need to balance what their own group wants with the need to accommodate other groups, and to preserve the common space that all benefit from, especially minority groups. This is why we have enjoyed a peaceful and harmonious society, and also the many freedoms that all religions have in Singapore.