PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Shoe company Bata lost more than RM 500,000 (S$157, 847) within a month after fake news about the company selling shoes with the Arabic word "Allah" formed on the soles went viral.
Since the controversy surfaced in cyberspace in February, Bata was forced to withdraw 70,000 pairs of the B-First school shoes from its 230 stores in Malaysia, said the company's country manager Paolo Grassi.
The shoes were returned to the shelves only after Bata was cleared of the allegation by the Al-Quran Printing Control and Licensing Board of Malaysia's Home Ministry on Thursday (March 30).
"That episode not only cost us to lose money, but our image suffered as well," he said. "We are relieved to be cleared by the authorities. To show our sincere efforts to respect the cultural and religious sanctity of the people of Malaysia, we will produce new mouldings for the B-First shoes after the existing stock is sold out by June this year," he told reporters at Menara Bata on Friday.
Also present were company senior manager Datuk James Selvaraj and chief collection manager Sharon Wong.
"We have been cleared by the ministry. Should anyone continue to put Bata in a bad light after this, we will not hesitate to take legal action," he warned.
On Feb 8, the principal of Sekolah Agama Bandar Batu Pahat had released a letter to its students forbidding them to buy Bata's B-First school shoes, claiming the shoes had the holy verse on the soles.