“Unprofessional, politically motivated”: Kuantan MP Wan Razali draws ire over nurse outfit remarks

KUANTAN MP Wan Razali Wan Nor has received brick bats from several quarters over his remarks yesterday (June 15) regarding the dress code of female nurses at most public health facilities in the country.

The opposition MP, in alleging that the nurses’ uniform is too tight and are not Shariah-compliant, had also questioned if the Health Ministry and the government had intended to stick with “Western” practices with regards to the nurses’ current dress code.

According to former Universiti Malaya (UM) nursing instructor Rasnah Abdul Rahman, the abilities of nurses to carry out their responsibilities required extensive education, training, and experience and should not be diminished because of their uniforms.

“Nurses can function effectively in any type of clothing – tight or not. There is no research to suggest that tight-fitting clothing worn by nurses has a negative impact on patients,” Rasnah was reported as saying by FMT.

Rasnah went on to say that a hospital’s dress code guidelines may differ depending on the culture, mission, and values of the hospital.

Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye concurred, noting that nurses’ clothes were comfortable, functional, and decent, with room for customisation to meet the needs of each hospital and individual.

“Wan Razali’s comment is unprofessional and politically motivated. When we expect MPs to focus on debating important healthcare reforms in the health white paper, the PAS MP was focused on the cut of the uniforms. What a joke,” the former Gopeng MP was quoted as saying.

Malayan nurses’ union president Nor Hayati Abd Rashid also defended the outfit, arguing it was not figure-hugging, and that uniforms worn by nurses were made to be functional and to make it simpler for them to carry out their jobs.

According to her, the uniforms were not too tight and they complied with the health ministry’s guidelines.

“The rules for the uniforms are that they cannot be too tight and the (length of the top) must be below the buttocks. There is a guideline.

“It is up to the nursing supervisor to look out for this. Normally, the sisters or matrons will advise nurses if their uniforms are too tight,” she remarked.

She noted that nurses used to wear skirts in the 1980s, but the dress code was altered to pants to be more Shariah-compliant.

“I am not sure what the MP was thinking to make such a statement. This (uniform) is not new, we have been using it for a long time,” she said.

Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Sim Tze Tzin similarly slammed Wan Razali for his apparently misplaced priorities.

“Malaysia has just emerged from a deadly pandemic. The government is now focusing on the Health Ministry to improve healthcare services.

“But what is on PAS MPs’ minds? Nurses’ clothing. Come on, PAS/Perikatan Nasional (PN). Is this the best you can do?” the Bayan Baru MP was reported as saying by MalaysiaKini.

Tebrau MP Jimmy Puah, too, demanded that Wan Razali retract his statement and apologise to Malaysian nurses, noting that the country is already facing a nursing staff shortage owing to brain drain, which has impacted the efficiency of the healthcare system.

“We should be appreciating the sacrifice and effort contributed by the nurses in saving lives and serving the nation instead of questioning what they wear,” Puah said in a statement on his Facebook yesterday (June 15).

Meanwhile, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai argued that all nurses in the public sector adhere the civil service dress code and that the current health ministry-approved nurse uniforms are practical because they do not appear to hinder movement when nurses perform their tasks.

“In healthcare, everyone needs to be fast on their feet. It was a shame that when everyone was concerned about the future of healthcare, Wan Razali was concerned about the nurses’ dress code,” he said. – June 16, 2023

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