Moderates, stand up


Before and after: Photos posted on Tan’s Facebook page showing her original attire (left) and the sarong she was asked to wear at the JPJ office.

Before and after: Photos posted on Tan’s Facebook page showing her original attire (left) and the sarong she was asked to wear at the JPJ office.

IT is said that ignorance is bliss, but not necessarily so all the time. Most Malaysians must have been amused, rather than upset, over a recent Facebook posting that went viral and eventually caught the attention of a news portal.

It started with an angry customer, going by the name Mista Bob Faishah, posting on the Texas Chicken Malaysia Facebook page that the fast food chain obviously did not take into account religious sensitivities because the franchise’s brand dipping sauce is named “Church”.

“Dear TCM... Please do explain (yo)ur dipping sauce brand at Malaysia Franchises... Most of (yo)ur customers is a Muslim... AND Muslim didn’t not eat for food from ‘church’ brand,” he wrote. He also shared the image of said dipping sauce together with his post, the portal reported.

Soon, an equally outraged Facebook user, Halim Zainal, left a comment saying that Texas Chicken Malaysia should change the name on the packet as a sign of respect to its Muslim customers.

The angry person warned TCM that they would not be able to sustain their business if they were not sensitive to Muslims in the country.

The management of TCM had to patiently explain to the customer that the franchise’s “Church” brand dipping sauce was named after the founder and did not represent the Christian house of worship.

“Please be informed that the brand Texas Chicken was founded in San Antonio, Texas USA by our founder by the name of George W Church Sr — Church being his surname and the name of the brand Church’s Chicken.”

The Facebook post elaborated that the word “church” was not used in a religious context and that some of the dipping sauces were imported from the United States, where the food chain originates.

But it has ended well. The customer has now posted an apologetic comment: “Deepest from my heart that I want to ask apologized for my post (1 June). For that time I only want to inquiry regarding the brands of “church” brand. And after TCM do explain to my inquiry n I accepted that was the co brand from san Antonio, Texas.

“I hope with my apologized here can stop all the negtive things goes more bigger. That what can say I only just want to inquiry regarding that brands only..But for ur info, I stlll enjoy my meal with my favorite winglets from TCM!

“Once again..I’m apologized for my post before that I had removed because I don’t want that all people read n negtive thingking of my inquiries.”

Well, as we can see from the postings, the person’s command of the English language really leaves much to be desired.

That could have been one reason why he did not first check, via Google or other search engines, for information about this food chain and why its products are named as such.

Our English language proficiency, sad to say, has hit rock bottom and many of our Internet users are missing out a lot because they have such a poor command of the universal language.

He only associated the word “church” with religion, without being aware that it can also be the surname of many people. Christian Bale would be really worried if people stop going to watch his movies if such an association is made.

But let us keep this in perspective. We can all accept Mista Bob Faishah for sportingly admitting his mistake. We are sure he has no intention to create a controversy.

But another issue that we need to be concerned about, apart from poor English, is whether we are seeing a rise in religious conservatism where many modern-day practices that everyone in our plural society used to accept as a matter of course – from food to sports and entertainment – are being looked at from a different, and more radical, perspective.

Those who spew hate messages in the name of religion can always find a ready audience in those who are prepared to take what they say without question.

And this applies to all religions where such leaders thrive on those who are blissfully ignorant on the true nature of their faith.

Such an environment makes it easy for these people to create fears among the followers that they are constantly under threat. The bogeymen in flavour today include Christians, Jews, the LGBT community, liberal-minded people, etc.

Fortunately, we are still a country where people of different faiths can co-exist peacefully and in harmony with one another.

Faith is a matter of the heart and whatever the rabble-rousers may want to ferment, few will believe that just seeing the religious symbols of another faith will so easily shake their own beliefs.

Be that as it may, we need to also be on guard against the rise of extremism, especially when it comes quietly in every day situations.

The voices of moderation must be heard, and the silent majority cannot afford to be quiet if they value the kind of society we live in.

Why are so many Malaysians not surprised to read about the middle-aged “aunty” who was asked to wear a sarong before she could be served at a Road Transport Department office? The Rela guard felt her skirt, which was just above her knees, was too short and did not adhere to the dress code.

It may be a small matter to some, but it was good of Suzanna G L Tan to share her experience on Facebook by posting a photograph of herself outside the office, showing her attire for the public to judge.

“I had to go to JPJ personally to sign the transfer form for the car I sold. That in itself is already a pain,” Tan wrote.

“I go dressed like this. Indecent meh?” she asked in reference to her dressing in the photograph.

Tan said while she was at the counter to get a queue number, she was handed a sarong to wear “or they would not entertain me”.

The blame eventually fell on the Rela guard but none of the other officers at the JPJ office bothered to tell off the Rela guard for his over-reaction. They have kept silent over this demeaning exercise.

We used to be able to blame the little Napoleans for incidents like this but with the advent of social media, such actions can always be recorded for the public to judge.

And then we have our Malaysian gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi, who has just won a gold medal at the Sea Games, being criticised for not covering up. But to be fair, there were many who came to defend her on Buletin TV3’s Facebook.

Instead of applauding her flawless performance, there seem to be those with perverted minds whose minds are focused elsewhere.

These people thrive on attention and their antics have a way of being magnified way beyond their actual influence.

But here’s the saddest part. Those who speak out for Farah Ann are the usual known personalities and non-governmental organisations while those we wish to hear from – including politicians from both sides of the divide who hold national level posts – are strangely quiet.

But we are glad that the Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who has to protect our athletes, spoke out.

“In gymnastics, Farah wowed the judges and brought home gold. In her deeds only the Almighty judges her. Not you. Leave our athletes alone,” wrote Khairy on his Twitter account.


  • The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.



ModerateMY , on the beat , moderation

Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 35 years in various capacities and roles. He is now editorial and corporate affairs adviser to the group, after having served as group managing director/chief executive officer.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.