KUALA LUMPUR - McDonald's Malaysia has filed a police report against more than 20 individuals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for spreading lies and slander, and for calling for the boycott of the franchise, reported Malaysian media.
The calls for boycott came following the Donald Trump administration's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital last week.
The police report was lodged in response to claims that McDonald's Malaysia was a direct contributor to the political conflict, reported New Straits Times.
Managing director and operating partner of Gerbang Alaf Restaurants Sdn Bhd, Azmir Jaafar, said the company has also filed a report with the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission.
"The claims coming from these parties that say McDonald's Malaysia contributes a fund to Israel is a false and slanderous accusation.
"Gerbang Alaf Restaurants Sdn Bhd is a locally-owned company run by a Muslim individual as its biggest shareholder.
"As a company, we do not contribute, support or are involved in any political or religious conflicts anywhere in the world," he said in a special press conference on Thursday (Dec 14).
Azmir said McDonald's Malaysia had also released a statement on Dec 8 saying they did not take sides in the conflict.
Even though the statement was widely published and shared, Azmir said, some individuals were still bent on calling for a nationwide boycott of the restaurant.
"We are doing this as a preventive measure before anything bad happens. We are preserving the safety and livelihood of our 12,000 employees and 4,000 more indirect employees associated with us.
"There have been reports of harassment from our employees after Trump made the announcement."
One of the claims circulating online and via WhatsApp is that McDonald's Malaysia contributed to the Israel-Palestine conflict via funds to the Jewish United Fund (JUF) through the Matching Gift programme.
Azmir clarified that McDonald's Malaysia is not involved in the programme nor have they contributed anything to JUF as it is a US-based welfare group.
The only contribution paid by Gerbang Alaf is franchise royalty fees to McDonald's Corporation.
Azmir clarified that the contributions made by McDonald's in the United States to the Jewish United Fund (JUF) were done through a programme called "Matching Gift" that allowed companies to match the charitable donations of their employees.
He said it was the norm in the US for many companies to offer the programme to encourage their employees to donate to charities, reported website Free Malaysia Today.
The programme was not exclusive to McDonald's as many companies in Fortune 500 had adopted it, he added.
"In 2014, more than 2,000 contributions were made to welfare bodies under the Matching Gift of McDonald's in the US by its employees.
"The amount donated to JUF was tiny (only three donations by employees to JUF were matched). There were also Muslim welfare bodies which received matching contributions.
Malaysia is not the only country where the fast food chain has faced calls for a boycott over the Israel-Palestine conflict.
In Saudi Arabia, a movement known as #BoycottAmericanRestaurants has spread throughout the country.