McDonald's Malaysia says staff harassed and abused over Gaza conflict

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - McDonald's Malaysia said their staff had to endure harassment, threats and verbal abuse over the boycott of Israeli-products led by certain parties.

The boycott came about after a number of non-governmental organisations claimed that the international fast-food chain was providing funds for Israel to carry out the war in Gaza.

McDonald's Malaysia issued a press statement on Friday in which it said some of their outlets were subjected to acts of vandalism to the extent that they had to shut down operations for the day.

"The reality is that our employees and franchisees have done nothing wrong and it is grossly unfair that they should be targeted in such a way," the statement said.

The company reiterated its stand that it "does not channel any sales, profits or franchise fees from restaurants to support any political causes or conflicts in any part of the world."

"We have been consistent and transparent in communicating our position but unfortunately the information we share have been misinterpreted by certain parties.

"While we understand and respect that the act of boycotting is an individual decision, nevertheless, we are disappointed that McDonald's Malaysia has been unfairly targeted."

McDonald's urged Malaysians to remain calm and refrain from carrying out any acts that may harm any parties.

"Let us all remind ourselves that we are Malaysians and we share a common bond. We can agree to disagree respectfully.

"But most important of all, let us all continue to pray for the conflict and continued peace in Gaza," said the statement.

In Masjid Jamek, two guards were seen guarding the McDonald's outlet. When asked if anything untoward happened today, both of them refused to comment.

The Star also went to check several McDonald's outlets in Petaling Jaya old town, Mid Valley and Seksyen 14 and found it was business as usual there.

"Nothing happened so far. Though the number of customers have reduced due to the boycott but we haven't faced any problems," said the manager at the Petaling Jaya old town outlet.

Most of the customers said it was the people's right to boycott but not to vandalise and hurl abuse at employees.

Jeffrey Chiam, a 25-year-old IT specialist, said most of his friends have boycotted McDonald's but criticised the approach of some people who went to the extreme to vent their displeasure.

"I heard some people threw slippers, spat at employees and vandalised outlets. If these are true, it is a shame.

"You want to all means, do it but do it in a respectable manner. These employees are here to earn a living, not support the Israelis," said Chiam.

College student S.Arshveen, 23, said violence happens everywhere and boycotting will not stop the war in Gaza.

"Instead of boycotting these outlets, why not donate or volunteer to help the people in Gaza. To me, that is a better way to show your concern for the people in Gaza," he said.

Israel attacks on Gaza since July 8 left over 1,800 Palestinians dead, including hundreds of women and children, and many more injured and numerous homes destroyed.