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NursingStudent'sRequest[6]- 5Aug2009


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NursingStudent'sRequest[6]- 5Aug2009

  1. 1. 5 August, 2009 Dr. Phang Chiew Hun, Director of Health Sciences, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, 535 Clementi Road, Singapore 599489. RE: REQUEST FOR EXEMPTION REGARDING UNIFORM Dear Dr. /Madam, 1. I refer to your letter dated 13 July 2009 regarding the above, as well as my previous other correspondences on the matter (reference letters dated: 12 April; 30 May; 11 June; 29 June 2009), addressed directly or copied sent to you. 2. In your letter of 13 July 2009, although in paragraph 2 you asserted “we explained the need for our nursing students to keep to stipulated hospital uniform dress code ...” you have totally missed my query for seeking the rationale to your insisting such “need” - other than stating the obvious that it is a policy that your Department has chosen to adopt. In the absence of any reasonable and comprehensible grounds, your mere insistence of this so-called “needs” lacks any merit compared to my daughter’s religious obligation regarding modest dressing. Or, can I take it that a Muslim’s religious needs would not be tolerated? If so, be forthright so that we could be justified to deem your enforcing such policy to be rather rigid and discriminatory. 3. Your mention of the offer for alternative course has been responded (vide our letter of 11 June 2009): “We appreciate your suggestion for my daughter to transfer course. Unfortunately, we have to decline because the alternative courses offered were not amongst her choices, and the dateline for making the transfer was too close.” Thus, in your paragraph 3 which you merely recorded our decision, but did not stipulate our reason for not taking up the offer, does not present the full facts on the matter. As your letter is also now copied to others, in all fairness this point should also be known, lest our not taking up your offer may be unfairly judged. 4. As to your Clinical Manager Ms Siti Muslehat meeting with my daughter on 12 June 2009 (paragraph 4), our understanding of what transpired was that my daughter was told that she has to conform to the stipulated dress code as stated in the Clinical Log book, to which she informed your CM that she would have no problem conforming. Going through what was stated in the said log book, no where does it state that headscarf (which, by the way is not an accessory) must be removed. Thus we are of 1
  2. 2. the opinion that this insistence to have my daughter removing her headscarf was an interpretation which is subjective, and may not at all be the intention of the rule – since it clearly meticulously forbids only the wearing of accessories. 5. When my daughter went for her CA on 29 June 2009, the staff in Bedok Multiservice Day-care Rehabilitation Centre did not raise any objection to her appearing in headscarf. It was your staff, Clinical Manager, who insisted to disallow her from proceeding with the attachment. This was when a meeting with you was subsequently arranged. 6. Perhaps you may assume that by merely telling us that this is a policy taken by your Department, it suffices as explanation of “the need” for uncovering her head (even though this means contravening her religious obligation). This was not our requested explanation from you in our earlier correspondence. We know your prerogative regarding adopting any policy in your Department, but we would not like to think that in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, people and staff there do not care nor can they tolerate a genuine religious concern of a citizen. We hope that we are not proven wrong. It was with such optimism, hoping for tolerance that we wrote to you in the first place. Well, barring any reasonable rationale from you, and yet insisting that a Muslim must contravene a religious ruling, if not she would be deprived of the CA (Clinical Attachment) and other tests, is discrimination. This was the crux of what I had tried to explain when we spoke in your office. Unfortunately, you were not fully apprised of my earlier letter dated 29 June 2009, which your staff then duly submitted to you only during that meeting. 7. We have also raised to you the point that, technically my daughter did conformed to the dress-code as specified in the Log-book, by putting on the Nursing uniform as issued. The only contention, it seemed that you and your staff raised, was her not wanting to expose parts of her body which her religion forbid from being exposed. When asked as to which clause you meant by this insistence, we received evasive and rather bureaucratic monologue. Even our request to understand “How does a headscarf becomes a hindrance to her performing her duty as a Nurse?” met with silence. Furthermore, I have also contended that, by her appearing less that your standard on dress-code, even so, she could only be faulted on points regarding the uniform per se, but to disqualify her from participating at all in the CA just because of this, is indeed excessive, unjust and discriminatory. 8. Your reiteration that “nursing students will have to abide by... “- is stating the obvious, but totally missed the whole issue and contention. We would like to believe that in Singapore we still exercise tolerance and respect multi-religious freedom. Thus, whenever we feel aggrieved, we seek for mutual understanding and due 2
  3. 3. reconsideration because things may have inadvertently been overlooked, perhaps uninformed or even misinformed. We are giving you the benefit of the doubt. 9. So, do you still reiterate this even after being aware that a Muslim nursing student (women) in your Department would have to commit a sin (in her religion) if she was to conform to your rule? 10. We are aware that certain people may use a twisted argument by perhaps saying, “Well, she has a choice!” whereas in fact, the so-called “choice” is that “she can choose either: not to be discriminated, by conforming to what is dictated (even if it meant for her to commit a sin in her religion). Or, to uphold her religious rights and accept the discrimination because nobody cares.” Surely, this is akin to bullying. Well, whether you agree or not, we can only hope that any with conscience and justice would be able to see my daughter’s predicament. 11. And as I have pointed out: “We believe that we are not being unreasonable in our request and hope that in your school wanting to synchronise with hospital practices, it must evaluate the reason for such practices, especially when it contradict personal rights of others. Unless the reason is compelling, what should be adopted must not exceed reasonable bounds nor rigidly imposed.” 12. We note again your reiteration: “the dress code is consistent with practices of the other nursing education providers offering basic nursing course” as though this is universally applied. We have already responded by correcting you that this may only apply presently in Singapore, but not in many other countries. Perhaps you are bringing this up because there is no rationale on your part to justify this dress-code which barred the wearing of headscarf as it pertains directly to the Nursing profession. 13. And may I remind (to whoever is relevant) what I previously stated: “... we hope for your support in upholding a basic religious right. I know that there are many more Muslim students who would love to pursue nursing course at your prestigious school, if not for the uniform rule. When or if ever the Nursing Board review their code of uniform for nurses in their profession, your students should not also be saddled by such dilemma while still pursuing education in this field. Even, presently, your accommodation on this issue would gladden many amongst your students and their parents.” 14. Just for the record, my daughter has always availed herself to go for the CA (Clinical Attachment) and other tests, but has always been prevented by your staff from participating, due to this insistence, which we submit, is unreasonable (i.e. without 3
  4. 4. reason other than mere bureaucracy). Please also, advise your staff as to the sensitive nature of this issue. Although they may not agree to nor is expected to conform to what we Muslim practice, yet we expect due respect be given by your staff on the matter (especially towards my daughter). In the absence of any rational argument on their part, some may choose intimidation and condescending remarks. Again, threatening remark and intimidation to disallow and would failed my daughter if she refuses to conform may have been suggested by one of your overzealous non-Muslim staff, as though decision has already been made regarding the matter, whereas you have indicated that this request for exemption is still being pursued and referred to other authorities. And how can she be said to have failed when she is actually being prevented from taking the test? I hope you realise how cruel and disheartening such callous attitude and insensitive remarks can be upon my daughter’s educational experience while in your institution. 15. As, we have agreed to allow other relevant authorities to also know about this request, I have copied my response to them as inputs for their considerations, deliberations, and perhaps they may suggest an amicable way out to this matter. Thank you Sincerely yours, ‫ذوامكفل حاج امسعيل‬ Zhulkeflee Bin Haji Ismail Apt. Block 716, #04-4504 Bedok Reservoir Road, Singapore 470716. cc. Principal, Director/Academic Affairs, Ms Siti Muslehat Ngee Ann Polytechnic 535 Clementi Road, Singapore 599489. 4
  5. 5. Chief Nursing Officer, Ministry of Health College of Medicine Building 16 College Road, Singapore 169854 Deputy Director/Higher Education Division, Ministry of Education, Singapore 1 North Buona Vista Drive Singapore 138675 Secretary, PERGAS Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association, Wisma Indah, 448, #03-01 Changi Road, Singapore 419975 5