The dilemma of McDonald’s Malaysia after its Israeli counterpart offers free meals for Israeli soldiers

Letter to editor

MCDONALD’s free meals for Israeli Soldiers has raised a major controversy globally which led to the question if people should protest/boycott the American multinational fast food chain owned by McDonald’s Corp.

No company in any country can open and run a McDonald’s without the consent and agreement of McDonald’s Corp for certain, and if permission is given to operate an outlet, then expect money to flow to McDonald’s Corp which today has yet to make its stance clear on the Israeli-Palestine (Gaza included) conflict.

Given that McDonald’s Corp did not sanction McDonald’s Israel for giving free meals to Israeli soldiers is perhaps very telling of its position. It could have reprimanded McDonald’s Israel or state that the fast food giant stays independent and will not take side in the conflict as its official business position.

Pic credit: Market-Interactive

The big boss is ultimately McDonald’s Corp and no franchise holder can go against it. Possibly worried about the backlash –maybe even a boycott – McDonald’s Malaysia did the following:

  • McDonald’s Malaysia has contributed RM1 mil to the recently launched Palestine Humanitarian Fund under the Prime Minister’s Department.
  • Throughout October, McDonald’s Malaysia will organise birthday celebrations involving more than 12,000 orphans from 400 welfare homes selected throughout the country.

Will that affect our position about McDonald’s at consumer level? How much money that Malaysians spend in McDonald’s flowing back to the mother company in US – and to the US government in the form of tax revenue?

Even though McDonald’s Malaysia is registered as a Malaysian company, that does not mean that it is independent to do as it wishes.

Does McDonald’s Malaysia support pleas for the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli troops back to the 1948 Israel border which means finally a true ‘independence and freedom’ for West Bank?

Or will McDonald’s Malaysia state that it is disappointed by the US use of its veto power to block the United Nations Security Council’s resolution for a pause in fighting to allow humanitarian assistance to Gaza?

Charles Hector

Gone are the days when businesses could stay silent on issues of human rights. Today’s businesses are required to take a stand on issues lest customers may choose to not give them business. After all, options are aplenty in this day and age.

Wonder if McDonald’s Malaysia is linked to the unity government or friends of Anwar (Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim) for Anwar, too, seems not to make known his position on McDonald’s Israel giving free food to Israeli soldiers?

What exactly is Anwar’s position? Will it criticise the US for using the veto? Probably not, for like Najib (incarcerated former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak), Anwar, too, maybe pro-US and will just talk about “end fighting” and humanitarian aid – just like Malaysia’s response to floods.

Without taking a strong position to deal with the root causes, the problem in Palestine and the suffering of Palestinians will continue. Malaysia may continue to provide humanitarian aid, medical assistance and money to maybe repair houses, hospitals, schools, places of worship, etc.

But the fighting in Gaza will not stop amid burial of many innocent war casualties … it will flare up again and again with the same calls been made over and over. – Oct 24, 2023


Human rights activist and lawyer Charles Hector is also the co-founder of NGO Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET).

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

Main pic credit: Reuters

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