MBI Dress Code

I refer to a report in the net media that Eunice Chai has been refused entry to the MBI because she wore a sleeveless dress. It seems Ipoh City Council has imposed a dress code on visitors.

There are several issues here:

Under what by-law is the Ipoh City Council imposing this dress code? Or is this something decided by the mayor and councillors, arbitrarily.

Since when has this dress code been imposed and more importantly, why? For decades Ipohites have been allowed to access the council premises as long as they are clean and conform to the legal definition of ‘decency’. For decades there have been no fuss made on visitors’ attire. Hawkers, petty traders, etc. could enter the premises in their work clothes (usually shorts and singlet or T-shirt) to conduct their business without any fuss. They did not offend any sensitivity then.

Is this dress code a by-law passed and gazetted under the Local Government Act? Or does any law under the said Act give the Mayor the discretionary power to pass such by-laws if indeed such a by-law has been considered, passed and gazetted by MBI.

How does the dress code of the public doing business in the council affect its running or efficiency? If not then what is the reason behind this rule?

Little Napoleons everywhere are arbitrarily imposing their standards on the public. These days even office boys can demand that one covers up or be refused entry. A minister has condemned a department for insisting that exposed knees be covered – and providing a sarong for it.

Ipoh City Council must accept that in a multicultural society dressing varies and it is wrong to impose one set of values (if it’s that) on everyone. Would MBI refuse entry to women in saris because their midriffs are exposed? Surely that is more provocative than exposing one’s shoulders. If this is allowed, what’s next? Women must cover their heads?

As Eunice Chai said, the days have been particularly hot recently. Sensible clothes (including sleeveless dresses) are called for.

The world at large is getting less formal, even tycoons like Zuckerberg and Jobs conduct business with state officials in their jeans and T-shirts. No one is offended. Many wear jackets without ties and it’s acceptable even at high level meetings. Are we going backwards?

Clubs can have dress codes (however retrograde it is) because you can choose to join or not as may be the case. But MBI is a public area, funded by the public it’s a place where people visit because they have to. They should not be subjected to the whims of petty officials.

It’s a shame that the people who do not represent us but whose salaries and allowances are paid by the ratepayers of Ipoh should dictate to us how we should dress when visiting MBI. It’s like the servant telling the master what he can or cannot do.

Oh, I forget, ‘public servants’ (a term you hear less and less of these days) have become the ‘public masters’!

It would be better if the mayor and councillors pay more attention to providing decent service and keeping the city clean and well maintained.

This dress code should be withdrawn.


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