MALAYSIA: A well-known restaurant in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, recently faced scrutiny and criticism for insensitivity in a viral video featuring one of its employees.
The video showcased the employee wearing both a cross necklace and a songkok (a Malay traditional headgear) simultaneously.
According to a report by Berita Harian, the management of Mon Chinese Beef Roti restaurant acknowledged their oversight in permitting the staff member to wear the cross necklace and issued a formal apology for the lapse.
Subsequently, the employee has been dismissed from their position.
The restaurant’s management extended an additional apology to those who may have been offended or felt uncomfortable after witnessing the viral video.
The owner openly admitted that it was a management mistake, citing a failure to thoroughly check the background of the former employee.
Owner pledges increased vigilance to avoid oversights impacting Muslim sensitivities
In response to the controversy, the owner expressed a commitment to heightened vigilance to prevent oversights that may touch on the sensitivities of the Muslim community in the country.
The owner stated, “For the time being, the restaurant continues its operations with the assistance of four Chinese workers and a local Chinese Muslim.”
Highlighting the restaurant’s dedication to meeting the needs of Muslim customers, the owner emphasized the priority of obtaining halal certification.
She explained that steps had been taken before the restaurant’s opening to secure certification from the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) with the help of appointed agents.
Despite acknowledging the time-consuming nature of the halal certification process due to the required documentation, the owner, who is relatively young in managing the business, assured that they are making every effort to obtain the certification.
Commenting on the unexpected popularity of the restaurant, the owner expressed surprise at the widespread attention received within just two months of opening in the country.
The establishment gained prominence after a TikTok video went viral, depicting a customer’s positive experience at Mon Chinese Beef Roti Restaurant in Bukit Bintang, drawing long queues outside the premises.
However, the viral fame took a controversial turn when screenshots from the video circulated, revealing a restaurant staff member wearing a songkok with a cross necklace.
This fueled speculation among netizens, raising concerns about whether the restaurant was intentionally misleading customers by having non-Muslim employees wear a songkok.
Netizens raised queries about the restaurant’s choice to terminate the employee
Many netizens questioned the necessity of the restaurant’s decision to terminate the employee.
On X (formerly Twitter), netizens actively express their opinions on this matter.
One user queried the employee’s fault for wearing a cross necklace, emphasizing that it does not impact the restaurant’s halal status at all.
In response, another netizen acknowledged that wearing a cross necklace might not be inherently wrong, but the restaurant owner, being astute in business, made a strategic move, considering the majority of their customers are Muslims.
A netizen claiming to be a business owner, criticized the owner’s actions as religious discrimination, highlighting that if the roles were reversed, with a Muslim employee and a non-Muslim employer, the issue would be more significant.
Another netizen argued that in a Muslim restaurant, protocol is typically based on Islamic practices, making the necklace a non-issue.
Several netizens expressed confusion over the employee’s termination, expressing sympathy and deeming it unfair.
One user questioned the problem when a Christian employee wishes to work at a Muslim restaurant, drawing parallels with the preparation of halal food by non-Muslims at establishments like KFC and McDonald’s.
“There’s no need to fire him. As long as he follows the SOP, then there is no problem at all.”
Another netizen suggested that instead of termination, the restaurant could issue an apology for customer confusion, and the employee could wear a head cap instead of a songkok.
However, there were supporters of the restaurant management’s decision, viewing it as necessary in terms of religious sensitivity.
One netizen argued that the concern wasn’t about fear of other religions but rather about confusing customers and disturbing religious sensitivities.
“This is because the songkok is worn by Muslims, and it is not about non-Muslims preparing food for Muslims.”
“For instance, a shop filled with verses from the Quran, but none of the employees, who wear the kopiah (songkok), knows the Syahadah.”
The controversy was initiated when a TikTok user, renowned for his food vlogs, posted a video documenting his purchase of the trending beef roti from the restaurant.
Following this, the video was reposted by other social media users, accentuating screenshots that focused on the former employee of the restaurant preparing beef roti while adorned with a cross necklace.