Friday, January 15, 2010


One man’s meat is another man’s poison. This is so true in a multi-racial country. Case in point: McDonald’s in Singapore recently introduced their Chinese New Year (CNY) toy promotion: a set of Doraemon collectibles depicting the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac calendar. With a food purchase, customers could collect a zodiac toy of their choice for only S$2.

Some customers were miffed when they discovered that the pig toy was omitted from the set. As a certified halal restaurant chain, the fast-food giant reasoned that offering a pig toy on the premises would offend their Muslim customers. As the first day of CNY this year coincides with Valentine’s Day, McDonald’s replaced the pig toy with a cupid toy.

Their decision upset many Chinese customers. They felt McDonald’s should not have tampered with a Chinese tradition that dates back thousands of years. For customers born in the Year of the Pig, collecting a cupid toy wouldn’t have the same significance.

Sometimes being sensitive to the customs of one ethnic group may mean being insensitive to those of another. That’s one of the challenges of doing business in a multi-racial, multi-cultural country. You just have to tread with extreme caution. A mis-step, no matter how small, can lead to a conflagration that neither side really wants.

Note: In Malaysia, the Year of the Pig is referred to as the Year of the Boar. And the Year of the Cock(erel) goes by the more polite Year of the Rooster.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hahaha, reward of 72 virgins NOW reduced to 60 for those dead through jihad .....hahaha !