Serve syrup, cendol instead of alcohol in line with Islamic identity, Malaysia’s airlines told

Chinese Muslim columnist Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah lauded Rayani Air for their Islamic approach. — Picture courtesy of Facebook/Rayani Air
Chinese Muslim columnist Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah lauded Rayani Air for their Islamic approach. — Picture courtesy of Facebook/Rayani Air

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 — All airlines in Malaysia should follow Rayani Air’s Shariah-compliant footsteps and take the Islamic route instead, controversial Chinese Muslim columnist Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah said today, even suggesting that airlines substitute alcohol for “syrup and cendol.”

Tee lauded Rayani Air for their Islamic approach, adding that all other airlines could also learn from the example of the Royal Brunei Airlines which also touts itself as one of the first few Islamic-oriented airlines in the world.

“I’ve always been saying that we should follow the ways of Brunei Airlines. Isn’t it that only 30 per cent of them are Muslim. How come they can accept it? The answer is simple, the leaders there have willpower.

“What about us? Not insistent. Caught in the voting game,” he said in his column in Malay daily Sinar Harian.

He added that Malaysian companies ought to be Shariah-compliant simply because Malaysia was an “Islamic nation” and should be respected by everyone.

“Why should non-Islamic companies follow the rules of Shariah? The answer, firstly, Malaysia is an Islamic nation. Islam is the federal religion. It must be respected by everyone. Islam already respects other religions, as long as it doesn’t interfere with us,” he said.

Tee gave several other suggestions for airlines to be more halal, one of which includes opting to serve local beverages instead of alcohol which isn’t a Malaysian product to begin with.

“Fifth, why not take a lesson from the plane that had to turn around simply because of a drunk passenger. If alcohol is so good, just ask the pilot to drink it first. Why must pilots be checked for their sobriety, from drugs and alcohol, before flying a plane.

“Sixth, tourists come not to drink alcohol but to look at the country, the culture and our way of life. Their quality of alcohol is far better than ours. What we serve them is also alcohol we imported from them. Why serve that to them, and not a beverage of our own? We should serve syrup and cendol,” he said.

The lecturer at Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin also said that cabin crew uniforms should be made “less sexy” after having personally heard several grouses about having to work in the uniforms.

“Fourth, the issue of flight attendants crying because of sexy clothes and handling alcohol has been an ongoing complaint I’ve heard,” he said.

Rayani air began operations last month, with its maiden flight from klia2 to its home base in Langkawi.

Local broadcaster Astro Awani reported Rayani Air managing director Jaafar Zamhari as saying that the airline, which he said is full service like national carrier Malaysia Airlines, only serves halal food and does not serve alcohol.

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