Northern Kelantan state, ruled by the opposition Islamic Party (PAS), is embarking on a $15,800 campaign next month to educate women on what it says is correct Muslim dress.
"I had to take a breather... I found the idea by the Kelantan government simply ridiculous," Women and Family Development Minister Shahrizat Abd al-Jalil said.
But Kelantan Information, Women, Youth, Sports and Consumer Affairs Chairman Abd Allah Yaqub said "the objective is to show Muslim women how they should be dressed".
The state government, he said, had distributed about 1000 posters depicting "the proper attire for Muslim women" to heads of government departments.
Typical attire for Muslim women in Malaysia consists of a headscarf and a traditional two-piece dress known as the "baju kurung".
Shahrizat is adamant in her criticism, saying "there are many single mothers in Kelantan who are very poor and cannot feed their children".
This, she added, is another example of “how superficial the state government is, and having the road show instead of helping people who are in need is another of its ridiculous ideas”.
"...If they want to spend money, it should be channelled to education or to create new job opportunities for women..."
Shahrizat Abd al-Jalil, Women and Family Development Minister
Stressing that she was "embarrassed" by the campaign, Shahrizat also said "the state government should stop patronising the women there and if they want to spend money, it should be channelled to education or to create new job opportunities for the women in the state".
PAS, which rules the states of Kelantan and Terengganu, advocates the implementation of Sharia law to govern Malaysia.