Chinese Muslim’s job application for admin role rejected because she “can’t eat pork”

By Ariffin Sha

Ms Heidi Heng was left dumbfounded when she her job application for an administrative job was rejected. It was not the rejection per se that shocked her but rather the reason she was rejected.

Ms Heidi told The Online Citizen that she first put up her resume on Gumtree to look for a job. It was then that the company first contacted her.

When the recruiter contacted her via Whatsapp, she was told that her application would be rejected as the company in question was only looking for “Chinese speaking candidates.” The recruiter erroneously assumed that Ms Heidi was not a Chinese because she was pictured wearing a tudung.

When Ms Heidi later clarified that she did indeed speak Chinese and was a Chinese Muslim, the recruiter changed his tune.

The recruiter, now knowing full well that Ms Heidi was a Muslim, then asked if she could consume pork. Ms Heidi replied that she couldn’t, and asked why that would be an issue in the course of her work. After all, she was applying for an administrative position.

The recruiter replied that it would be “inconvenient if staff can’t take that meat (pork)” during “company events”.

The exchange of messanges between Miss Heidi and the recruiter
The exchange of messages between Miss Heidi and the recruiter

Ms Heidi then took to her Facebook page to express her disappointment.

It kinda sad that in sg there is such company. What to do with food and work? I mean, work is work food is food. I can eat halal food ur can eat ur non halal food. But company event i can choose not to go isnt? It really upset to see this.. But well, it ok not to work with ur too. Just wanna a simple of admin job end up get a racist comment

The screenshot of the messages made its rounds around social media yesterday. In particular, the picture shared by Mr Nazirul Rahim, Heidi’s husband, attracted more than 2,300 shares. Many of the people who shared the image expressed disgust at what they perceived as blatant racial discrimination.

TOC understands that Ms Heidi intends to write to MOM to highlight the company’s discriminatory practices. She declined to share the name of the company but she will update if and when MOM does respond.

It should be noted, however, that there are currently no laws in Singapore that regulate discriminatory hiring practices, only guidelines that stipulate standards for job advertisements.

MOM’s stance on Discriminatory Employment Practices

Following TAFEP’s guidelines on non-discriminatory job advertising, religion is clearly not an acceptable criteria for a job application.

The only exception where religion can be taken into account is when employees have to perform “religious functions as part of the job requirement.”

In 2013, MOM took action against 15 companies for discriminatory employment practices
In 2013, MOM took action against 15 companies for discriminatory employment practices

There has also been occasions in the past where MOM took action against companies with discriminatory employment practices. In a more recent case against Prime Gold International, MOM curbed the work pass privileges of the company to reflect the seriousness of the infringement.

In 2013, MOM also took action against 15 companies for the same charge and the companies were banned for six months from hiring foreign workers and had to put up public apologies.

In it’s press statement, MOM said

Under the Tripartite Guidelines, employers who advertise a position requiring a specific attribute which may be viewed as discriminatory should ensure that the attribute is indeed a requirement of the job, and state the reason for the requirement in the advertisement. MOM views non-compliance with the Tripartite Guidelines seriously, and strongly urges companies and employment agencies acting on their behalf to familiarize themselves with the Tripartite Guidelines.