Freedom of choice versus rights of choice

The hijab issue is still hot and will not rest for a long time to come. Our constitution has guaranteed everyone, including those other than the four recognized racial groups, the freedom to practice their religion and culture and way of life. I can’t call them the four major racial groups anymore as there are new groupings that are much larger than some of the four recognized groups.

Everyone is free to choose his way of life. Then why should the hijab becomes an issue and the Malays feel oppressed, that their rights to freedom to wear the hijab violated? The anger is real, justified or unjustified is a very subjective thing depending on the basis of one’s interpretation. No one or organization is allowed to ban the wearing of hijab or any other religious ornaments on religious or racial ground. Is this simple enough to understand?

Maybe I will use the example of communal living to explain this situation. In any block of flats or condominium, there are various races living there, including foreigners. Everyone is free to practice his religion and way of life, wear whatever he fancies as long as it is not vulgar and offensive. No problem right? Anyone feeling oppressed that he cannot practice his religion or way of life? Anyone objecting to the wearing of the hijab? The answer is simply a big NO.

Problem may arise within the four walls of a family unit. What a family practices and does may not be agreeable or acceptable to other families. Keeping of animals, eating of meat and even dressing can be an issue. But as long as they keep it within their four walls, everything is fine. Everyone has the freedom to choose to enter the home of another family or avoid doing so. There is freedom of choice. If I don’t accept or agree to what another family is doing, I can stay away. I can even avoid communicating or be friendly with the family. It is my freedom of choice as long as I do not provoke and find faults with them or intrude into their lives. You live your life I live mine. At this point, still peace under the sky.

No one can impose his lifestyle or religion onto their neighbours. No one can tell the neighbour what not to do or not to eat or how to dress. No one can enter the homes of the neighbours without his permission. If one chooses to enter the neighbour’s home, one has to accept whatever he is or there is. You cannot enter your neighbour’s home and tell him not to do this or that or dress whatever you like. This is basic etiquette and good manners. It is your choice. You are the intruder into his private space.

The other way round, if a family wants to invite another family into his homes and knowing the taboos of that family, it is not only proper but also polite and good upbringing to make sure that the invited family is comfortable without having anything offensive to them in their presence. It will be very rude and distasteful to invite someone who does not eat meat into your home and offer him meat and nothing else. The family that invites has a duty and responsibility to make sure his guests are comfortable. If he cannot meet that requirement, he should not invite the guest. Fair enough?

Such simple ground rules can make communal living among different races and religions peaceful, not necessary harmonious, but acceptable. The problem comes when an uninvited guest insists to enter another home and insists that the owner provides all the things that the uninvited guest feels comfortable. As an example, the uninvited guest may be a vegan and insists that the host must serve only vegetables. Is this fair? In the first place the vegan is not an invited guest. He has no reason to be there. Even if the vegan finds that home more comfortable and wanted to be there, he is not invited and cannot be there. If the host is willing to welcome him, it must be under the terms of the host.

Who is being rude and imposing? Who’s right is being violated? Who should feel oppressed? Who should be complaining?

Though the constitution provides everyone the right and freedom to religion and way of life, it does not allow anyone to impose his religion and way of life on others. In the same way, no organization is allowed to set rules and regulations on religious grounds, especially govt institutions, except religious organizations that are strictly for their own followers. As a secular state, all institutions have the right to set their own rules and regulations even on proper dressing and uniforms. Just because the uniform is not agreeable to anyone does not give the person the right to demand a change to accommodate the person on religious and cultural grounds. No racial or religious group has the right to demand that a secular organization must accept their religious norms and practices.

The uniforms of uniformed organizations are designed without any intent to violate any religion or race. They are neutral in that sense. And the uniforms are necessary for a simple reason, uniformity. A uniformed organizations demands uniformity, conformity and discipline. No exceptions unless it violates safety and a threat to life.

To demand an organization to change to suit an individual, race or religion is a violation of the freedom and rights of the organization. The organization is also protected under the constitution to have freedom of choice as an individual. The uniformed organization is not violating anyone’s right to his freedom of choice and religion by insisting that its members should wear uniform.

Just a distraction, the cross hovering on top of a hospital has a religious origin. Can any religious group feel offended and want it to be removed? Technically everyone in the hospital is working under the cross. Everyone should remember that you are free to exercise your rights to practice your religion and way of life as long as you do not impose on other people’s rights to their way of life and not on a secular organisation’s right and freedom of choice.

Who is reasonable and who is being unreasonable? I am very reasonable. I am a vegetarian and anyone inviting me to his party must make sure that no meat is around or is being served. It is offensive to my sight and emotion. I am a non smoker and when I am invited, I do not want anyone around me to smoke, not even in the same room. I am very reasonable. Do you feel oppressed by me?


Anonymous said...

RB, walau after reading your very long write up I don't whether u are for or against leh. U are not trying to confuse the u know who right cause you are confusing me leh

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

My writings are like dat one. Only clever people can understand : )

virgo49 said...

Mr RB, whatever you wear is your business is right, I agreed with you.

There is something that is not too right. On the grass verges around the perimeters of our blocks of flats, sometimes on a hot sunny day, you can see the whites half naked lying on the grass sunbathing.

We thought these are the supermen who dived down from the twenty fifth storeyes.

Luckily never called the ambulances upon further inspection that there are no broken bones or blood.

Sometimes, really want these white devils to jump down from the 25 Storeys

Anonymous said...

"No one can impose his lifestyle or religion onto their neighbours. No one can tell the neighbour what not to do or not to eat or how to dress."

Dear Uncle redbean pau
You obviously have not read Lee Kuan Yew's book - "Hard Truths"

Where were you when they put up signs "People with long hair will be served last" ?

Yours Sincerely
Aricept in Singapore
For better memories in old age

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Sometimes I am so unreasonable that I don't even know it. But I will keep insisting that I am reasonable and you are not.

As for the angmohs sunbathing, it is a public place and you cannot stop them unless they look like Adam and Eve.

But be careful, if you try to stop them Agongkia would not be happy.

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...


>> The uniforms of uniformed organizations are designed without any intent to violate any religion or race. <<

There's always leeway in uniform design to accommodate certain cultural practices -- which is LOGICAL in a multi racial/ cultural society. For e.g. Male Sikhs wear turbans. When they wear uniform, their turbans match and no one says anything -- i.e. a non-issue.

If there is a death in the family, some Chinese will wear sack cloth as a sign of mourning on their uniform. Again, no one says shit because it is a non-issue.

IMO, the same would apply to the hijab.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

The turban is a legacy of the British. If not of this, given the need to be fair to all races, turbans would be classified in the same way as hijab and would not be allowed.

No Chinese is allowed to wear any sack cloth or pieces of sack cloth on their uniforms. Where do you come from? They know too well that it would not be acceptable as part of the uniform. Even when they are morning, any gold coloured items or red patches on their uniforms would still be worn. No exception. A uniform is a uniform, unless you are the emperor.

agongkia said...

//But be careful, if you try to stop them Agongkia would not be happy.

November 12, 2013 10:07 am//
Thanks for remembering me.1 kopi for you.
I was about to find out from Virgo49 on the exact location .

All these while I am wondering why are we against human walking along the streets in nude and why one can be charge for not dressing up.

Why can't we allow those mei mei walking naturally in nude along the streets if they wish.
Give them the freedom and rights of choice.

Anonymous said...

I remember when I was in school, my chinese classmates who were in mourning pinned squares of blue or black cloth on their sleeves. Nobody said a word. Even the teachers and principals. We accept.

Anonymous said...

And some Hindu boys, especially the Northern Indians, perhaps of the Brahmin caste, would come to school with heads shaved clean, when they are in mourning.

agongkia said...

No sack cloth on uniform for Chinese on mourning.This has been acceptable and is not an issue all these while.School uniform can be flexible.

I have seen uniform organisation use to have one type of black arm band for mourning ,only to certain people in the Organisation or their leader.

Your sentence sounds confusing.During mourning,no gold or red is to be put on.
During my days,I remembered they are kind to grant one 1 week in number 4 uniform instead of the then no.3.
Maybe becos of the nature of my duty they are kind and accommodating and excuse me from haircut for 100 days ,or even longer if I want but no use,becos they know I can be more effective in long hair becos of the nature of my duty.
A uniform is a uniform.We must maintain the uniform standard,we are soldiers,not Taleban fighters.

Anonymous said...

one day every sinkie girl will kena wear the hijab in singapore. s'pore population limit is what 6.9 million, 12 million? after that no more. the malays seem to breed faster and more. and we cannot take in more ah tiongs or apunenehs because of the physical limit. and we cannot not give citizenship to malays born here. so eventually in the long run, malays will be the majority here, perhaps in a hundred years time. so we must enjoy hijabless while it lasts.

virgo49 said...

Sorry bro Agongkia, its the white guys, not ladies.

Location: spottiswoode park just opposite the KTM station.

Block 106 especially. Plus ah nehs and pinoys horse-riding and doggie back on the benches.

Anonymous said...

It will reflect our multi-cultural and multi-religious colours better if our Sikh, Bengali, Nyamarese, Bangla, Malay, Jew and others don their traditional and religious gears. It will
be wonderful to behold.
Also, let the Gurkha wear their Kukri
and free the Adventist from any weapon, disallow them to possess any cutting tool longer than 1 inch. The same goes to their kitchen ware
Let those who pray 5 times per day look for jobs that facilitate their needs.
Sin will surely becomes the most diverse and interesting place on Earth on top of being unique.

Anonymous said...

I think it is not Adventists but Jehovah Witneses.

b said...

Freedom of choice or right of choice is only for people who can think and act reasonably. It is not for people who are immature, brainwashed, insane, stupid, terrorizing, bad tempered, extreme etc. Only someone with 10 PHD degrees would fit the bill.

b said...

If that particular organization dresscode is not acceptable to anyone, they can always have the freedom to quit. The minority must always respect the majority. This is what democracy is all about. Otherwise, they can always migrate back to their muslim countries instead of always trying to migrate or seek asylum in christian countries and making the christian to adopt their customs. Who is oppressing who?

Anonymous said...

wat they wear is their problems .... TRUE

but if i dun know wat lurk behind those clothes .... it a real problem (wrt to burga)

is there any public market where pork is not available? if there is, why is it so? even pork available in matland supermarkets (separated)