Herd mentality in McD’s boycott affecting primarily Malay Muslim workers

IN A recent article, questions were posed as to what the end game was for the boycott of businesses with purported ties to Israel. Was it to force these businesses to severe ties with the Jewish state, making it an international pariah? Or was it to merely make these businesses with alleged Zionist links shut down their operations in Malaysia?

It must be noted that many of these lists making the rounds on social media naming and shaming alleged Zionists-supporting enterprises are not backed by any sort of evidence.

However, many Malaysians have apparently targeted McDonald’s after news that outlets in Israel have donated thousands of free meals to Israeli soldiers. However, McDonald’s is a global chain whose franchises are often owned locally and operate autonomously.

A statement by McDonald’s Malaysia operator – Gerbang Alaf Sdn Bhd – points to the fact that it is a 100% Muslim-owned entity and that the actions of the Israel franchise holder does not reflect the company’s global policy.

However, a video posted on Facebook by activist and lawyer, Siti Kasim, seems to highlight the herd mentality of many Malaysians when it comes to this issue. In it, the video shows empty McDonald’s restaurants with staff having very little to do.

Charity begins at home

The video points out that McDonald’s staff are mainly Malay Muslims who alongside the delivery riders are the ones mainly affected by this boycott. Interviews with McDonald’s staff in the video show some tearing up at the possible loss of employment due to this boycott.

The comments seem to reflect the sympathy for these workers who are in no way guilty of any wrongdoings or contribute – directly or indirectly – to the on-going Israel-Hamas conflict.

Kesian our people je. Its does not help the Palestinians also. The Israelis don’t suffer because of this boycott pun. Adoi … We are punishing our own people pulak,” remarked netizen Ruphina Moo.

Video shared by social activist-cum-lawyer Siti Kasim on her Facebook page

This sentiment was echoed by Cik Molly who commented: “The Malays boycott but it is the Malays who suffer. Our children at home starve as incomes disappear in a blink of an eye. Is it worth it? Take care of your own first before championing outside causes.”

Another sympathetic netizen Fauziah Yusop reckoned that “while the intention may be sincere in helping Palestinians, we have neglected our own people”.

However, there were others who did not seem to grasp the point of the video.

Netizen Putera Daeng Hakimi commented: “Apparently, the biggest buying power is that of Muslims in Malaysia.” However, he seems to not understand that the direct consequence of this show of economic power are the thousands of Muslim staff at McDonald’s who may lose their jobs.

Even more flippant was a comment by Doc MK who simply called on the affected staff to “find alternative work”. This led others to ask if he was going to help with the effort to re-hire these unemployed staff.

It does look like McDonald’s is a just an easy target with many feeling that they have contributed to the Palestinian cause by denying themselves a Big Mac. That they ignore the fact that McDonald’s Malaysia is a wholly Muslim-owned enterprise employing thousands of Muslims speaks volumes about the herd mentality and ignorance of the boycotters.

Alongside the many delivery riders who are experiencing a massive drop in income, it is mainly the B40 segment who will suffer – not McDonald’s as an international franchise nor a faraway Zionist regime.

If anything, this boycott looks like it is being counter-productive in harming Muslims earning an honest living in Malaysia. – Nov 3, 2023

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