McDonald’s in Malaysia and Singapore is owned by the Reza Group, a company from Saudi Arabia that also operates McDonald’s franchises in the western and southern regions of Saudi Arabia.
McDonald’s Israel has found itself at the centre of controversy after announcing that it would distribute free meals to Israeli soldiers and citizens following recent attacks by Hamas.
The fast-food chain’s decision has sparked a heated debate, with some questioning its implications and potential political undertones.
The move comes as Israel engages in a conflict with neighbouring Gaza, making McDonald’s Israel’s decision a sensitive one.
Xdek kaitan McDonald's Malaysia Dan negara2 lain …tolonglah jgn emosi xpe hujung pangkal ..ramai anak2 melayu keje kat McDonald's jgn sempit sgt pemikiran tue ye— Chef Airul ( Ori Pic ) (@AbangAirul) October 14, 2023
While it may have been intended as a gesture of support for the country’s soldiers and first responders, the global context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has amplified the controversy.
Critics argue that McDonald’s Israel’s initiative could be seen as taking a side in the conflict, potentially alienating customers with differing views.
The situation has raised concerns about the intersection of business and politics, particularly for multinational corporations like McDonald’s.
However, it is important to note that this decision by McDonald’s Israel is independent of other branches, including those in Malaysia and other countries.
Tapi kalau betul pun McDonald's ni Zionist punya, masih tak tergugat pun mereka kalau kita boikot.— Ministry of Truth (@_c_zar) October 15, 2023
Sebab keluarga Rothschild tu kaya nak mampus. Hasil dari bank² mereka yang tawarkan loan penuh riba.
Bank² tu semua pegang saham beribu syarikat dalam dunia ni. https://t.co/7M9bgKR0RH
Some netizens pointed out it is crucial to avoid generalizations and not let emotions cloud judgment, especially considering the diverse workforce employed by McDonald’s, which includes many Malays.
Others argue that boycott campaigns have little impact, but recent events suggest otherwise.
For example, McDonald’s Turkey recently announced a donation of one million dollars in aid to Gaza in defiance of McDonald’s Israel.
This move highlights the potential power of consumer advocacy and the ability of individuals to make a difference through their actions.
People who say that the boycott campaign doesn't matter— Mian Saeed (@MiyaSaeed0123) October 15, 2023
McDonald Turkey, in defiance of McDonald's Israel, announced a million dollars in aid to #Gaza 👇#Gazagenocide#غزة_الآن #جمعة_طوفان_الأقصى#طوفان_الاقصى_ #IsraelPalestineConflict #BoycottIndoPakMatch #Cricket pic.twitter.com/bwWCNusQ6u
The incident serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by businesses operating in politically sensitive regions and the careful balance they must strike between corporate responsibility and avoiding controversy.
It’s time for consumers to mobilize and use their power
Meanwhile, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are calling for action at the consumer level.
Malaysia Consultative Council of Islamic Organisations (Mapim) president Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid said each person can make a difference by choosing not to purchase goods from the US or Israel and supporting an anti-Zionist consumer movement.
It’s important to note that every dollar spent on US and Israeli goods could contribute to oppression against Palestinians and other groups. Therefore, some are urging consumers to mobilize and use their power to counter the actions of these countries.Mapim president Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid on consumer advocacy being directed towards promoting justice and opposing oppression and injustice.
He added that the world needs to reduce its dependence on trade with the United States (US) and seek alternative solutions to global trade.
McDonald’s Malaysia is a locally owned and operated fast-food chain that values diversity
At the same time, McDonald’s Malaysia (Gerbang Alaf Restaurants Sdn Bhd) has responded to recent discussions on social media regarding McDonald’s Israel.
They stated that the individual franchise holder’s unilateral decision cannot be considered a global action, company policy, or an official political stance taken by McDonald’s globally.
According to McDonald’s Malaysia, this action is a free market decision and does not reflect the values or practices of the local fast-food restaurant chain.
Since its acquisition by Lionhorn Pte. Ltd. under the Reza Group from Saudi Arabia in 2017, McDonald’s Malaysia has become a 100% Muslim-owned entity.
As a result, the fast-food chain has made annual zakat payments and will continue to do so.
To date, McDonald’s Malaysia has donated over RM12 million in zakat payments to 14 states across Malaysia and supported less fortunate communities.