PROMINENT human rights activist-cum-lawyer Siti Kasim has offered pro bono legal service to the employee of Mon Chinese Beef Roti in Bukit Bintang whom she described as having been discriminated and unfairly dismissed for wearing a crucifix at his workplace.
It would appear that the hasty reaction by the bun restaurant’s management to netizens complaining about the said staff has backfired spectacularly.
To recap, a busy-body TikToker had exposed the staff wearing a crucifix necklace alongside the company’s uniform that included a songkok while preparing food. This elicited a number of negative comments online with some suggesting this caused the food to be non-halal.
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In a move seemingly to appease the ultra-conservatives, Mon Chinese Beef Roti terminated the staff and issued an apology to its diners, stating that it should have been more diligent in carrying out background checks.
The issue has now found its way into parliament with former human resources minister M. Kulasegaran pointing out that there are specific laws to deal with religious discrimination in the workplace.
“Has the government taken any action on this? Because as far as I remember, there is a specific provision in the Employment Act for (the government) to take action,” asserted the DAP MP for Ipoh Barat.
“Race and religion are big issues. I fear that one day, employers might take issue with their workers putting white ash on their foreheads. Not only that. Maybe one day workers won’t even be allowed to wear their cultural outfit like saree.”
Echoing a similar sentiment was Kulasegaran’s Bandar Kuching comrade Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen who stated that the move by Mon Chinese Beef Roti Restaurant was against the law and a “challenge” to the freedom of religion in Malaysia.
He said that non-Muslims are allowed to prepare halal food as long as the requirements are met. Yii further expressed concern over rising racial and religious intolerance in Malaysia where diversity was no longer respected.
“What is unfortunate is that racial/religious intolerance is not only dividing our country but in this case, it is causing an honest man to lose his job,” lamented the 37-year-old medical doctor and DAPSY (DAP Socialist Youth) chief.
That Siti Kasim has openly offered to represent the wrongfully sacked staff should serve as a lesson for all businesses who think twice before pandering to racist attitudes with knee-jerk reactions.
It is sincerely hoped that the HR Ministry or the Labour Department will take stern action against errant employers who indulge in discriminatory practices, starting with Mon Chinese Beef Roti restaurant.
This case also highlights the dire state of race relations in the country with the ultra-conservatives getting offended at non-issues. The National Unity Ministry has its work cut out for it to stem this tide of ultra-sensitivity.
In the meantime, shouldn’t Malaysians from all backgrounds boycott Mon Chinese Beef Roti restaurant for being religious bigots? – Nov 22, 2023