Mr Faisal spoke up against the ban on wearing the Muslim headscarf for women employed as nurses and other uniformed occupations.
He appealed for the government to reconsider the ban so as to heed the Malay/Muslim community’s call to “be given the chance to fulfill their career aspirations while meeting their religious obligations”.
In response, he was criticised by Environment Minister Masagos Zulkifli for raising the “divisive” issue in parliament, who said that parliament was not the place to raise such issues.
Mr Masagos accused Mr Faisal of “subtly and frequently needling” Singapore’s Malay/Muslim community, and that he was out to “injure or hurt” the Malay/Muslim community’s feelings and turn them into a state-versus-religion case.
Mr Masagos added that whether Mr Faisal had the intent to sow discord was immaterial as what he said had the potential to disrupt Singapore’s racial and religious harmony.
Mr Faisal questioned why his remarks were viewed as sowing discord, and said that he was using Parliament as the best platform to voice out the community’s concerns.
He added that he has been “persistently and consistently” asking for the government to raise issues involving Singapore’s Malay/Muslim community.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also weighed in on the issue in a Facebook post:
“Parliament is the forum for serious discussion on important issues. This Parliament has not shied away from discussing difficult or contentious matters – last November we had a vigorous debate on changes to the Elected Presidency.
However some sensitive issues of race and religion have no easy or immediate solutions. The best way to make progress on them is quietly, outside the glare of publicity. Championing divisive issues publicly, to pressure the government and win communal votes, will only stir up emotions and damage our multi-racial harmony.
In the debate on “Aspirations of Singapore Women”, WP MP Faisal Manap brought up the tudung issue again. Minister Masagos Zulkifli challenged Mr Faisal and explained why this was unwise. He spoke with courage and conviction.”