Flight attendants question deputy minister’s priorities

Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff, the deputy minister for women and family development, reportedly said she would raise the issue of flight attendants’ uniform with Islamic affairs minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Flight attendants have questioned a deputy minister’s priorities in bringing up the question of shariah-compliant uniforms at a time when airline staff face possible job cuts as well as the Covid-19 outbreak.

The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia said Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff, the new deputy minister for women and family development, should get her priorities right.

Nufam president Ismail Nasaruddin said her timing was wrong. “Why talk about their uniforms now when the women are facing so many other issues,” he said to FMT. “They don’t even know if they will still have jobs. Obviously, this is not the right time.”

Siti Zailah, who is head of the PAS women’s wing, has said flight attendants should wear shariah-compliant uniforms. She was quoted in an interview with Sinar Harian saying that she hopes to raise the issue with the de facto minister for religious affairs, Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri.

However, Ismail noted that 13,000 MAS staff have been asked to take unpaid leave because of the Covid-19 pandemic. “What about their welfare in the airline industry? Shouldn’t she be concerned about that?” he said.

MAS employees have reportedly been told to take up to three months’ unpaid leave from April as the airline struggles to cope with the impact of the pandemic, which has caused countries to impose travel restrictions.

Ismail said the image of flight attendants was crucial, and the deputy minister should raise her views about their uniforms with the airlines and other stakeholders.

“People should not be ignorant in bringing up such issues when our concern is our future in the airline industry. Let’s be honest. what’s more critical, the welfare of the flight attendants or her (Siti Zailah’s) proposal,” he said. “They are affected because of possible pay cuts. This is the priority,” he told Siti Zailah.

What a flight attendant says about her uniform

A flight attendant who wanted to be known as Alia told FMT that she was surprised at Siti Zailah turning the question of uniforms into a national issue.

Alia, 23, said all flight attendants are aware of the kind of uniforms they would wear even before they signed up for the job.

As a member of Malindo Air flight crew, she finds her uniform to be comfortable, but she and her colleagues were not comfortable with Siti Zailah raising the issue. “It makes us think that people look down on our choice of career,” said Alia.

“But so long as we have jobs and our intentions are clear, to work hard and earn money, we do not have to put our faith in others,” she added.