Outcry in Malaysia over P. Ramly pork burger

Ministry investigating if burger joint has misled consumers

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's Islamic authorities and consumer affairs ministry are looking into local burger joint Ninja Joe's naming of a pork burger "P. Ramly" - a play on the names of the popular Ramly halal burger patties and 1960s Malay screen legend P. Ramlee.

The founder and owner of Ramly burger patties, Datuk Ramly Mokni, has said that he is asking his lawyer for advice on the matter.

The latest controversy over fast food in Malaysia comes just a week after pretzel chain Auntie Anne's tangled with the Islamic authorities over its naming of its hot dog offering as "pretzel dogs".

Halal food - food permissible for consumption by Muslims - is a sensitive issue in Malaysia as Muslims turn more conservative.

Ninja Joe proprietor Kelvin Tan told the Malay Mail Online (MMO) news site that the burger joint chose the name "P. Ramly" to pay homage to the country's No. 1 burger brand, Ramly, when the product was launched on independence day at the end of August.

Ninja Joe said on its Facebook page that it has removed posters of the burger from its outlets and has ceased the use of the P. Ramly name with immediate effect.
Ninja Joe said on its Facebook page that it has removed posters of the burger from its outlets and has ceased the use of the P. Ramly name with immediate effect. PHOTO: NINJA JOE/FACEBOOK

"The Ramly burger has been in Malaysia for a very long time; it's iconic. It's a homage to them," he told MMO, adding that the letter "P" stands for "pork".

But Mr Ramly, who heads the Ramly Group, said: "This is a very dangerous issue. If you want to do that for any halal products, then it's a different matter. But this (the pork burger) is not halal."

Ninja Joe has now said it is withdrawing the controversial burger.

"In order to avoid public confusion, we've removed posters of the burger from our outlets and have ceased the use of the P. Ramly name with immediate effect," the burger joint said on its Facebook page on Wednesday.

But that has not stopped the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism from saying it may act against the burger joint if it is found to have misled consumers.

The Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia demanded action as the burger's name has "confused" the public.

Malaysia's Berita Harian (BH) newspaper quoted a woman on Tuesday as saying that the "P. Ramly" name was disrespectful to the late actor, Tan Sri P. Ramlee.

The Veteran Artistes Association has filed a police report asking for action against Ninja Joe for what it deems to be provocation against the Muslim community by using a name that mirrors the Malay screen icon's, BH reported on Wednesday.

Ninja Joe, which has outlets in Selangor and Negeri Sembilan, has been visited by the Islamic authorities in the two states.

Officials quoted by BH said they have completed their investigations on the matter after confiscating a piece of bunting, a menu and a sales receipt.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2016, with the headline 'Outcry in Malaysia over P. Ramly pork burger'. Print Edition | Subscribe