On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Give them a dressing down

THE last time Malaysians had to put up with the notoriety of the Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia was when it called for the ban of the Gwen Stefani concert last year.

The student body claimed the singer was too sexy and that her concert would lead to immorality.

Now, the same movement has made another ridiculous statement.

Its vice-president Munirah Bahari condemned the school uniforms worn by girls in government schools, saying they were too sexy and would cause rapes and sexual immorality.

The white blouse, she said, was too transparent for girls and could cause distraction to men, adding the Government should review the uniform to ensure that it would conform to Islamic ideals.

She said it was important to “cover up” to fend off social ills such as rapes, sexual harassment and premarital sex, which could lead to babies born out of wedlock and even prostitution.

Now if you think that’s comical, wait until you hear this. Munirah blamed some female students for using the white blouse to lure men, suggesting the colour should be changed.

How white can sexually arouse men is something I, and certainly most Malaysians, cannot fathom. We have to ask our Cik Munirah, who seems to be quite an expert in this area.

And the National Union of Muslim Students leader is not even talking about the white blouse with knee-length skirt or pinafore, which is the preferred choice of most non-Muslim female students.

We can guess she will come to the length of the skirt next, if her student body has her way with the white blouse and other nonsense.

The student body is hardly known today but in the 1990s, it was a prominent movement with protests against so-called western hedonism and nihilism, and was in the news for protesting against the “Salem Cool Concerts.”

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim headed the student movement from 1968-1971, where the emphasis was on social injustices.

Fast forward to 2008.

The organisation seems to be preoccupied with dressing and thanks to Munirah’s statement, Malaysia has made international news, again, for the wrong reason.

But what is disturbing is the trend to embrace the Arab culture in the name of religion and those who seek answers are immediately shut off for being insensitive to the religion of others.

It has come to a point where many people have become too timid to question individuals and groups like these, worried about the backlash against them, and the result is that their decibels get higher as they impose their values on us in the name of morality.

There are supporters of this student group who are pushing for “thicker material” for these blouses; heaven forbid that we come to a point where some groups get to push for greater conservatism in Malaysia.

If there is any review of our school uniforms, we should be allowing our students to wear collared T-shirts like in Australia, which suits our tropical weather much better. It is also healthier.

In the Arab countries, it is dusty and at times, even windy, but in Malaysia, it is humid and we know how sticky and uncomfortable we become after the physical education lesson, as our schools do not have shower facilities.

Common sense must prevail, just like the views of the majority. Don’t let anyone tell us how and what to dress.