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Nurses moot ideas of their own after uniform kerfuffle

Some call for flexibility in choosing their own clothing according to duty.

Azzman Abdul Jamal & Nur Hasliza Mohd Salleh
2 minute read
Nurses walk past the ambulance bay at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Bernama
Nurses walk past the ambulance bay at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Bernama

Some nurses in Malaysia have come up with suggestions of their own following the stir caused by an MP from PAS, who said in the Dewan Rakyat that their uniforms were too tight and non-shariah compliant. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, they said they had in fact raised several issues with regard to their uniforms before to their superiors or associations, but that these had gone unaddressed. 

A nurse who asked to be known as Wati said she once spent six years working at a clinic in the interior of Pahang. 

There, she spent much of her time making house visits in Orang Asli villages to attend to the treatment of mothers and babies. 

"Some of my colleagues also had to travel to Orang Asli villages to deliver tuberculosis medicine," she said. 

"We would have to make our way through the bushes and undergrowth in our white nurses' uniforms. 

"It was very uncomfortable, and our uniforms would tear because they would get snagged on thorns or branches."

Even if the uniforms were made to allow room to move, she said, they would still follow the shape of their bodies. 

"That's just how they are designed," she said. 

Kuantan MP Wan Razali Wan Nor had said in the Dewan Rakyat that the government should consider changing nurses' uniforms as they revealed the body shapes of women. 

He also asked if Malaysia was still following "Western" dress codes, and called for some "relaxation" in the uniform design. 

Nas, a male nurse at Hospital Sultanah Nora in Batu Pahat, Johor, said nurses should be allowed to choose comfortable clothing while on duty. 

"It's not an issue of following Western standards or anything like that," he said. 

"But we don't have a standardised uniform for nurses in Malaysia. Some university hospitals use their own uniforms while government facilities use white uniforms. 

"And some private hospitals let their nurses wear scrubs." 

The Malaysian Nurses Association, which represents registered nurses throughout the country, said earlier this week that the issue of tight clothing was an isolated matter.

"The current nurses' uniform – pants with long sleeves – covers the 'aurat'," it said, referring to parts of the body that must not be revealed according to the Islamic dress code.

"The design of the dress also facilitates the movement of nurses to perform their tasks, and adheres to the dress code by the health ministry.

"The issue of tight clothing is an isolated issue and does not reflect the nurses in the health ministry as a whole. The narrow-minded remarks will indirectly affect our morale."

Wan Razali himself meanwhile said that he had been asked to bring up the issue in the Dewan Rakyat. 

"What I brought up in Parliament was not for fun," he said in a live TikTok session with the Pahang PAS Youth this week. 

"I voiced what was expressed to me. This matter may be considered trivial for some, but for me, it is something that was entrusted to me."