MUAR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The owner of the controversial "Muslim-only" launderette in Johor has apologised for his actions and will obey Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar's decree to remove the signboard limiting its services to those of the faith.
"I regret the issue and I will obey His Majesty's command," said the owner of the launderette in Taman Seri Cempaka, Muar, who refused to be named, adding that he immediately took down the sign on Wednesday morning (Sept 27) following the news published in The Star.
"I was not aware about it at first. I was only informed about Tuanku's comments after my friends alerted me and forwarded me the news article," he said on Wednesday.
Pictures of the launderette went viral last week over a sign at its entrance which said that only Muslims were allowed to use its self-service washing machines.
Checks by The Star on Wednesday showed that the sign was no longer displayed at the launderette's entrance but remained open for business.
The Johor Ruler had earlier ordered the launderette to immediately stop its discriminatory practice or risk being shut down by him.
"I cannot accept this nonsense. This is Johor, which belongs to Bangsa Johor (Johoreans) and it belongs to all races and faiths. This is a progressive, modern and moderate state," he said.
"This is not a Taleban state and as the Head of Islam in Johor, I find this action to be totally unacceptable as this is extremist in nature," he said.
His Majesty said he also ordered the state Islamic religious affairs committee chairman Abdul Mutalip Abd Rahim, the religious council and the district council to investigate the matter.
The Sultan said the mosques in Johor were open to non-Muslims, for example, as long as they were properly dressed and he could not imagine non-Muslims being banned from entering the mosques, saying he was concerned over rising religious extremism.
"I wonder where this launderette owner washes his clothes when he is overseas? Is he saying only the clothes of Muslims are clean and those of non-Muslims are unclean? That's what he means, I believe," the Sultan said.
"From now on, I am directing the state executive council and all the councils to insist that any business owners who carry out such blatant discriminatory practices should have their licences revoked. Don't mess around with your narrow-minded religious prejudices."
The Sultan added that he could not keep quiet on the issue, as if this was allowed to go unnoticed, "then next, we will have taxis for only Muslims or non-Muslims".
He added that he also did not want other races to carry out similar actions.
The Sultan's comments came after the Johor Prince Tunku Idris Sultan Ibrahim on Monday expressed dismay over the launderette's move, saying he was "appalled" by it on his Instagram.
Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin had also criticised the policy, warning that "such narrow-mindedness" would lead only to extremism and the incapability of people to live in a multi-racial society.