KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — The organiser of a Melaka event where pork was served has apologised to Muslim and Hindu reporters over the unintentional mistake, while a PAS leader remains dissatisfied even when halal food was provided at the event mainly attended by non-Muslims.
Datuk Clinton Chai, president of Agricultural Protection and Development Association of Malaysia (Apdam), yesterday reportedly met with Melaka media groups’ representatives to publicly apologise.
“I wish to apologise to the Muslim and Hindu journalists who were involved, that matter is due to carelessness and error on our part.
“Honestly, we did not ask for this to happen and we hope this will also be a lesson to us, to be more attentive after this,” he was quoted as saying by local daily Sinar Harian.
In a separate report by local daily Utusan Malaysia, Chai was quoted as saying that there was no intention to hurt the feelings of the reporters and handed over an official apology letter to the media representatives.
Melaka Mass Media Club president Samat Majid and Melaka Journalist Association president Choong Kion Sin were reportedly present.
Utusan Malaysia accused the organiser of failing to provide special tables serving halal food to Muslim reporters, claiming that several Muslim and Hindu reporters were allegedly offended by the organiser’s insensitivity in serving pork without notification.
Apdam secretary Chai Siong Siew reportedly clarified that the organiser had expected only three reporters from Mandarin newspapers to attend as the other media personnel did not RSVP for the event.
Chai also noted that the organiser had prepared five tables that served halal food for Muslim and Hindu guests, and other invited guests.
“We invited all special guests to the halal table. We were careless on that night which led to this issue happening. We wish to apologise for the issue that happened,” he was quoted as saying by Utusan Malaysia.
Samat reportedly advised Apdam to be more aware of a multicultural society’s sensitivities when organising official programmes, especially those attended by federal and state officials. The Melaka event was attended by Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Deputy Minister Sim Tze Tzin and several state lawmakers.
Samat accepted the apology and expressed hope that there would be no repeat of the incident, suggesting that organisers do away with two different servings from different caterers at official events if possible.
In a separate report by Sinar Harian, PAS central committee member Ridhuan Mohamad Nor reportedly criticised the event organiser despite the latter’s admission of its error.
He said organisers should not serve non-halal food at such official events and be more sensitive about pork, although 90 per cent of the guests at the Melaka event were said to be non-Muslims.
He reportedly said this was due to the presence of Muslim guests and guests from other religions.
“Although the organiser said they prepared five tables with halal food, five more tables for vegetarians and the remaining 50 tables serving non-halal food.
“But how could the throats [of Muslims] who attended that programme swallow [food] when that food is served around them?” he asked.