Israel Boycott Barks Up the Wrong Burger


Israel Boycott Barks Up the Wrong Burger

McDonald's Malaysia closes one chapter as Ampang Park shuts shop; opens a new era confident that false accusations that it supports the Zionist state are now behind them. Its Senior Director for Marketing, Communications and Insights Melati Abdul Hai tells AWANI Review Editor Razak Chik that there’s so much more to look forward to at its new location of business just across the road.

Come new year 2018, welcome a new McDonald's for its patrons who used to frequent the iconic Ampang Park shopping complex which closed for good on the last day of 2017 to make way for the ongoing Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) development project.

Welcome too, to a newly promoted Melati who is elevated to the position of Vice President who would also be holding the role of Chief Marketing Officer. 

The past few weeks have been a hectic one for her and her McDonald's Malaysia communications team following US President Donald Trump’s pronouncements in support of Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem for the relocation of its capital from Tel Aviv. 

Social media in Malaysia was all aflutter with threats to boycott its outlets by anti-Zionist protest groups to show support for the beleaguered Palestinians. 

McDonald's Malaysia is owned by Gerbang Alaf Restaurants Sdn Bhd, whose largest shareholder is Muslim

For the record, McDonald's Malaysia through its managing director Azmir Jaafar had issued a statement refuting the accusations. It is worth repeating that McDonald's Malaysia is owned by Gerbang Alaf Restaurants Sdn Bhd, whose largest shareholder is Muslim.

Further, the Malaysian and Singaporean franchise rights were bought by Saudi Arabia’s Lionhorn Pte Ltd in 2016 as part of the US parent’s strategy of moving away from direct ownership in Asia. 

Now that the boycott threat had subsided, Sunday – the 365th day of 2017 – saw merriment and a festive air at McDonald's Ampang Park as all talk of nostalgia of the good old days. 

It was in June 1989 that McDonald's opened its doors at the Ampang Park Shopping Centre ,which had the distinction of becoming the first shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur. After 28 years of serving beef patties in bun sandwiches and straight-cut fries, it stood firm right up to the very last trading day before bowing to the inevitable. 

But its loyal patrons do not have to move far– just across the road to the Intermark at Jalan Tun Razak. 

This outlet is the fifth such restaurant in Malaysia that McDonald's describes as `technology-enabled’. These outlets feature SOKs (self-ordering kiosks where customers can place their own orders and customise their meals).

Long queues are eliminated as customers' orders are digitally tracked and displayed. Payment is enhanced by the use of credit or debit cards. Digital menu boards display current as well as upcoming promotions, speedy WiFi connection is promised and USB mobile charging stations are on offer. 

Newly promoted McDonald's Malaysia VP Melati Abdul Hai points out that the fast food chain’s new offers to enhance customer experience

The other four McDonald's that offer similar facilities are the refurbished outlets at Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bangsar, KLCC and Section 3 in Shah Alam. The chain expects to spend between RM50 million to RM100 million over the next three to five years to carry out its continuing programme of restaurant upgrades. 

In its 35 years of operations in Malaysia, McDonald's has served over 13.5 million customers monthly in Malaysia at its more than 265 restaurants nationwide, while employing more than 12,000 Malaysians.