KUALA LUMPUR: The controversial Reggae Mansion has defended its “ban” on guests from Malaysia, India and the Middle East but many people are not buying it.
The hostel chain said it provided Western meals and drinks which were not suitable for Muslims, and thus the “ban” was out of respect for the religion.
“Reggae Mansion is a hostel for Western international travellers. We respect other ethnicities, cultures, religions and their practices,” it said in its website.
The hostel, which operates here and in Penang, also does not accept bookings from wheelchair-bound people and those aged above 60.
“As Reggae Mansion is a backpacker and party hostel, we have an age limit of 60 as we want to ensure our elder travellers find a comfortable place to sleep and rest,” it said.
However, many of those interviewed by The Star were not happy with the explanation.
Agnes Read, a specialist teacher from Switzerland now residing in Malaysia, said: “I don’t think they should have an age limit like that. For some people, life begins at 60 because they can only relax after retirement.”
“The hostel will only lose business by barring them,” said Read, 59.
Blogger Sharizal Md Sidek, 28, who has gone backpacking to countries like Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Scotland, the Netherlands, and Spain, said he had never encountered such rules anywhere.
“I think these rules are ridiculous,” he said.
Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said the hostel should not impose “an apartheid” policy.
Taking to his Twitter account yesterday, he called on people to “shame and shun” the establishment.
Datuk Mohd Ilyas Zainol Abidin, president of the Malaysian Association of Hotels president, said Reggae Mansion’s rules were unusual.
“It should review its policies and conform to the norms of the local industry,” he said.
Hostelling International-Malaysia, the local branch of an international network comprising 4,000 member hostels in more than 80 countries, with 16 hostels in Malaysia, also disagreed with the policy.
“Hostels are supposed to be open. These rules have probably been put in place by the hostel to safeguard its own interests,” said the head of the local chapter Hamiruddin Hashim.
Reggae Mansion is not a member of either MAH or Hostelling International.