KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — A Malay business lobby group slammed McDonald’s Malaysia today for using its ethnic Malay staff and franchise owners as “human shields” to deflect criticism from anti-Israeli boycott campaigns.
The Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM) accused the local operator of the global fast food chain of being hypocritical with its stance of “supporting its workers”, alleging that very little of its profits are passed down to its workers.
“It must be said that whatever McDonald’s restaurants are facing are not comparable to the atrocities currently being inflicted in Gaza,” said MTEM CEO Nizam Mahshar in a statement.
“At the same time, we do not agree with the way McDonald’s is using the Malay staff and franchise owners as a front for public sympathy.”
MTEM claimed that McDonald’s Malaysia would register sales of RM1.8 billion this year based on an annual growth rate of 20 per cent, and its last sales figure of RM1 billion as of 2010.
The group calculated that with 12,000 employees working 150 hours per month at a wage of RM5 per hour, McDonald’s Malaysia would’ve spent only RM108 million on its staff.
“This would mean that only 6 per cent of their sales go back to its employees in this country. Where does the rest of the 94 per cent head to?” asked Nizam.
He demanded McDonald’s Malaysia disclose who benefits the most in the company.
MTEM said it abhors violence, and urged those who had joined in boycotts against the fast food outlets to offer better-paying jobs to McDonald’s Malaysia staff and provide its franchise owners viable alternatives instead.
“We believe that this should also be part of the discussion for organisations and individuals that believe in a sustainable movement to boycott multinational brands that allegedly funnel funds to Israel,” he said.
“MTEM admits that it has no control over the anger of the public, however misguided they may be. However, we believe it is up to the corporations to win back the trust of the public while refraining from using its staff as a public relations human shield.”
The group also said the event serves as a lesson to all multinational conglomerates in Malaysia, which should include Malaysians both in terms of employment and also as part of the supply chain.
A list of products and companies, including McDonald’s, purportedly with ties to Israel’s Zionist regime has been circulating in the social media, although many have ended up there based on now-debunked hoaxes and obsolete links.
A nationwide 24-hour boycott was held last Friday against McDonald’s to protest against the fast food chain’s alleged links to Israel.
The popular fast food joint has since pleaded against the protest, saying the real victims of a boycott of its products would be its mostly Malay-Muslim employees.
The fast food chain also pointed out that the company is a source of livelihood for more than 12,000 employees, over 85 per cent of whom are Muslims.
It also said 67 of the restaurants are owned and operated by 27 local franchisees, nearly half of whom are Malay-Muslims.