Gardenia invites locals to apply for jobs after Malaysians threaten boycott for hiring Rohingya refugees

 
A Gardenia staff member unpacks fresh loaves of bread at a convenience store in Petaling Jaya March 25, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
A Gardenia staff member unpacks fresh loaves of bread at a convenience store in Petaling Jaya March 25, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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PETALING JAYA, July 21 — Malaysian breadmaker Gardenia has invited locals to join their workforce after receiving hate online from folks who are unhappy that Rohingya refugees are earning a living in their factories.

A quick scroll through Gardenia’s official Facebook page shows a barrage of angry comments and reactions left by Malaysians over the past few days.

Some accused them of prioritising refugees over locals in their hiring policy and threatened to boycott them as a result.

Malaysians began hurling derogatory comments on Gardenia’s Facebook page after the breadmaker was falsely accused of favouring refugees in its hiring policy. — Screengrab from Facebook/GardeniaKL
Malaysians began hurling derogatory comments on Gardenia’s Facebook page after the breadmaker was falsely accused of favouring refugees in its hiring policy. — Screengrab from Facebook/GardeniaKL

Gardenia issued a statement last Friday to clear the air over the issue, explaining that the refugees had been employed under the Work Permit Pilot Project (PPKB) spearheaded by the Malaysian government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2015.

The company joined the PPKB programme in 2017 and began employing a number of Rohingya to work in its factories alongside locals.

In a reply to a user in the comments, Gardenia noted that they are not considering more refugees for hire at the moment and encouraged Malaysians to apply for work with them as they have many vacancies available.

“We would like to emphasise that we prioritise giving work to Malaysians.

“We still need more manpower to fill vacancies and we continue to have recruitment sessions and interviews twice a week,” Gardenia wrote in their statement.

 

Kepada Pengguna yang dihormati, Berikut adalah penjelasan daripada Gardenia mengenai Projek Perintis Kebenaran Bekerja...

Posted by Gardenia Bakeries (KL) Sdn Bhd [Official] on Friday, July 17, 2020

On Sunday, Gardenia issued a follow-up statement to disclose the actions they’ve taken to look after the welfare of the community.

This included setting aside RM1 million under their Program Bantuan Covid-19 to help out individuals from the B40 group and the less fortunate since the start of the movement control order (MCO) in March.

They also said that the 57 Rohingya individuals under their employment have been working hard alongside locals in their factories to ensure bread shelves remain well-stocked across the peninsula.

“Mankind is united with the same vision: to build stable livelihoods in a collective manner.

“Throughout the MCO, our Gardenia employees, consisting of Malaysians and 57 Rohingya refugees that were employed under the PPKB, have been working hard 24/7 to make sure everyone in Peninsular Malaysia can enjoy a steady supply of bread.

“Malaysians continue to be a priority at Gardenia. At the same time, let’s work together and help each other as one community that shows awareness and humanity,” Gardenia wrote.

 

Gardenia sentiasa mengutamakan kebajikan komuniti.

Posted by Gardenia Bakeries (KL) Sdn Bhd [Official] on Sunday, July 19, 2020

Xenophobic sentiments in Malaysia reached fever pitch over the last few months when boats carrying Rohingya refugees tried to come ashore in June and April.

The government turned these boats away citing fears of Covid-19 while separately detaining 202 Rohingya individuals in April and 269 more in June when they were found adrift in Langkawi waters.

Meanwhile, Gardenia made headlines back in March when they ramped up their production capacity to 2.2 million loaves per day.

Demand for their products surged after a wave of panic buying kicked in during the first phase of the MCO, which was implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19 across the country.

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