SELANGOR, MALAYSIA — Kajang police were under criticism from the former Malaysia national police chief and current minister for not allowing a woman to enter the police HQ to lodge a police report just because she was wearing Bermuda shorts.
Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, Minister for Women, Family and Community Development, chided the police by saying that it is inappropriate to deny access to any individuals to a police station regardless of how they dress.
On Tuesday (31 January), Malaysia online news site Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported that a woman who had intended to lodge a police report following a car accident was denied entering the police station because she was “wearing shorts”.
“The officer saw what I was wearing (through the car window) and told me to leave. I was wearing Bermudas that covered my knees,” the woman with the alias name Karen claimed that the officer refused to listen to her reason for having to travel some distance to change.
“It was ridiculous. How can they deny my rights to lodge a report unless I change my clothes?” Karen had to call her sister to bring her a pair of long pants, and only then was she allowed to enter the station.
The officer allegedly refused to give Karen his badge number and name when requested to file a complaint.
The article reported that Karen had met with an accident with a truck near her home in Batu Sembilan, Cheras. They first went to Batu Sembilan police station to lodge a report but were told to go to the Kajang police HQ instead.
Karen claimed that the officer at Batu Sembilan police station did not reprimand her for her attire.
Kajang police chief: the woman advised to change to more appropriate attire
ACP Mohd Zaid Bin Hassan, Kajang District Police Chief, later confirmed that the woman was denied to enter the Kajang district police headquarters by the sentry personnel on duty for wearing inappropriate clothing.
In a statement, he said at 10.30 am that day, a woman drove to the police headquarters in a sports utility vehicle (SUV) to make a police report related to a road accident.
“The sentry personnel on duty informed the woman to park her car behind the police headquarters due to the lack of parking space in the area.”
“At that time, the sentry also found that the woman was wearing thigh-length shorts (above the knee). He advised her to change to more appropriate attire if she wanted to deal with the police in line with the etiquette of dealing with personnel in government premises, ” Mohd Zaid explained.
He said the woman was not satisfied and refused to follow the initial instructions and provoked the personnel on duty.
“The duty member again advised her prudently and asked her to change into more appropriate attire if she wanted to deal with the police. The woman was then seen driving out of the police station before coming back some 15 to 20 minutes later wearing long pants with her two friends.”
Mohd Zaid clarified that the wearing of long pants by the woman in the picture that went viral on FMT was after she changed her pants as advised by the staff on duty.
He stressed that the Kajang Police HQ deal with an estimated 300 members of the public a day, and have been no issues regarding attire so far.
“Pictures of visitors’ clothing etiquette when dealing with staff in government premises are also posted at the Control Post as a reference,” he added.
Malaysia’s former police chief says police cannot stop anyone from lodging report just because of attire
The woman’s experience has since garnered mixed reactions among Malaysians. While some suggested the woman should just comply with the dress code when entering governmental agencies’ premises, a former police chief reminded that the police cannot stop anyone from lodging a report just because of the complainant’s choice of attire.
Musa Hassan, former inspector-general of Malaysian police, said the police’s duty is to help the public, they should not be “chasing” away those who want to lodge a report.
“If it is an emergency, it doesn’t matter what she wears. She is a victim, so the police have to allow her to make a report, ” he told FMT.
“Police station should be public-friendly”
When commenting on the incident, S Arulchelvan, Parti Socialis Malaysia deputy chairperson, said the police station should be the friendliest place, and there is no dress code for the public to enter the station.
“Because police officers always wear a badge with “mesra (friendly)” symbol. The station is open 24 hours, and the public will only visit there when they encounter some issues.”
“Hence police stations should not be “legit” on attire, and should allow every public to the station to lodge a police report. This is the spirit a police station ought to represent.”
He added that Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, then-Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department once said only civil servants were subjected to dress codes, and there is no specific dress code for the public to observe when dealing with government agencies.