Thursday, 14 January 2010

Muslims boycott McDonald’s in Singapore

McDonald's latest toy promotion to commemorate Chinese New Year has caused a stir among the Muslim community. The promotion set comprises soft toys depicting the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, including a pig.
"McDonald's is a certified Halal restaurant. It has no right to give away soft toys which could portray a pig in positive light," said Mullah Halal. "I have formally requested the Singapore government to remove pig meat from all food courts and live pigs from the zoo. The Infocomm Development Authority is evaluating censoring the word 'pig' from the internet while schools are waiting for guidance from the Ministry of Education regarding removing the word from all approved texts," continued Mullah Halal.
"Once the p** has been dealt with then we will turn our sights on alcohol and alcoholic beverages. Such items are haram and have no place in our society."
The Singapore Fictional Times, January 14, 2010
Thankfully, the above is a figment of my imagination.


But what exactly was McDonald's thinking when it omitted the pig from the twelve characters Doraemon set? A boycott by the local Muslim community to protest the inclusion of a pig in the set!
(For the uninitiated, Doraemon is a Japanese manga series. Doraemon is a robotic cat from the twenty second century who travels back in time to help a schoolboy named Nobita Nobi.)
The incident is a 'political correctness gone wild' situation. McDonald's has exceeded the limits of sanity and entered the realms of the absurd.
All animals, including pigs, are part of God's ecosystem.  
Pigs, alcohol and other 'haram' items are plentiful in Singapore. Shall we expect that hotels and bars stop serving alcohol out of deference to the sensitivities of the Muslim community?
Why leave out the Hindu community? Like McDonald's in India, maybe McDonald's Singapore should stop serving beef products. The cow is as holy as the pig is haram.


In any society there is an element of give and take. There may be some red lines for the sake of respect and tolerance. In all other areas, common sense and reason are the guiding principles. We slay our own demons and create our own good deeds through exercising our Free Will.
If Singaporean Muslims are perturbed by pig soft toys then the Singapore system has failed to establish a genuinely tolerant, multi-cultural society. The government and the Islamic Religious Council (MUIS) may find it easy to enforce laws, but common sense is slightly harder to implement by decree.

6 comments:

  1. I say we all stop going to McDonalds.

    Since McDonalds does not respect Chinese sensitivities, Chinese should not go to Mcdonalds. Similarly, we should not go to McDonalds, even non-Hindus, out of sensitivity for the lack of sensitivity of McDonalds towards Hindus in continuing to serve beef.

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  2. Hi Lim,

    Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to post a comment.

    Surely, the Health Promotion Board will be happy with a total boycott of MCD! It may help in reducing Singapore's obesity rate ...

    I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

    Kind regards,

    Imran

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  3. Hmmmmm! I think violent is the answer for every problem. With violent, muslims gets whatever they want. So the Hindu's also should get violent.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi G,

    Thank you for visiting my blog and for your comment.

    I know your comment is a sarcastic one but I would still like to respond. Many a true word are spoken in jest!

    1. Only small group of Muslims indulge in violence but they hog the headlines and set the agenda for the media networks;

    2. The only thing this group of misguided Muslims has achieved for the Islamic world is to make Muslim countries a pariah in the world. They have also made everyone extremely suspicious of the intents of all Muslims, irrespective of their own personal beliefs;

    3. Within India, the RSS (an allied group to the mainstream BJP political party), is an extremist Hindu group which indulges quite regularly in violence to further the 'Saffron Agenda.' Remember the destruction of the Ayodha Mosque / Babri Masjid affair and the ensuing violence?

    4. Islam and Muslims do not hold a monopoly on violence. History is replete with examples of violence used by all sorts of groups to achieve their own objectives. (It's important to remember that the two World Wars of the last century, which were extremely bloody affairs by any measure, did not involve any meaningful participation by any Muslim nation.)

    I hope you will continue visiting my blog and I look forward to more of your comments.

    Kind regards,

    Imran

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  5. Hi Imran,

    Just wondering about your views on the Chinese response to the omission of the pig? I personally thought that McDo's move was perhaps unwarranted, but I thought it was a nice gesture in a sense. In any case, I didn't think much of it. It's not such a big deal really if they have a toy or not. But I was more shocked by the number of Chinese people who took such grave offense and upset to the matter.

    As a Singaporean, it speaks alot for our so-called racial harmony, if either side takes such offense to a trivial issue such as this. Would it really have markedly changed the way either Muslims or Chinese lived their lives? no. Why couldn't there have just been a compromise? There are clearly some unprogressive tensions and a lack of understanding amongst races/cultures in Singapore, for such an incident to have taken place. So stupid, so immature, so childish.

    cheers,
    Danielle

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Danielle,

    Thank you for visiting the site and taking the time to comment. Like me, I am sure many readers appreciate your insightful comments.

    You have highlighted an important issue which has not got much attention - 'chauvinism' among a segment of the Chinese population. Hopefully, this is only a small minority which got inordinate attention by speaking loudest.

    As a non-Mandarin speaking minority member in Singapore I have accepted that there will be certain social characteristics which place someone like me at a disadvantage. I will not call it (outright) discrimination. It is a natural advantage conferred to the majority in any society. After all, a Mandarin speaking sales representative has an advantage over a non-Mandarin speaker. (Hence, my post advocating that Mandarin, along with English, be compulsory across all races in Singapore.)

    Unfortunately (or fortunately) the incident did occur. It is important that we learn from the experience. The whole concept of 'common space' needs to be constantly revisited so that such common space between the races in increased with time.

    Recent events in Malaysia demonstrate that nothing can be taken for granted. I remember many years ago when the first JI members were arrested in Singapore many could not believe that Singaporean Muslims could be involved in terrorist activities. It was an 'it can't happen here' head in the ground attitude.

    Anything is possible anywhere. Singapore is no exception. Thinking individuals such as yourself have a role to play in ensuring that racially colored thinking becomes less important in Singapore in the coming years.

    Common sense and common space is the only way forward.

    Kind regards,

    Imran

    ReplyDelete