A prominent supermarket in Singapore apologised after stopping an Indian-origin Muslim couple from trying its complimentary snacks during the holy month of Ramzan, saying that they were reserved only for Malays.
36-year-old Jahabar Shalih, an Indian, and his Indian-Malay wife Farah Nadya, 35, alleged that on Sunday, 9 April, a male employee at a National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) run supermarket “shooed” them away from a snack kiosk while the couple and their two young children were shopping for groceries.
The couple shared their “distasteful” experience in a post on Facebook and said:
“Fairprice was handing out free items for Muslim patrons who needed to break their fast. As Jahabar stood there to read the stand-board message, one of the Fairprice staff approached Jahabar and repulsively mentioned, “Not for India, not for India”
The supermarket group introduced an Iftar Bites station on 23 March and offered complimentary snacks, beverages and dates to Muslim customers during Ramzan at 60 of its outlets.
The customers are given refreshments, which include canned drinks, half an hour before and after Iftar.
"I walked over just to read what was on the board because I thought it was generally a nice gesture by NTUC and it is. As I started reading it this staff from NTUC approached me and he told me 'No India' ... and I was like 'what'?”
When Jabahar tried to explain that Muslims could come from the Indian community as well, the employee retorted and said that that he “had no education,” adding that the instructions came from the “ top people,” Farah added in the Facebook post.
"He said 'No India, only Malay' and I was like 'that's strange'," Jabahar alleged.
Fairprice responded to queries after the incident and acknowledged the post, adding that it engaged the couple “to address their concerns” and closed the matter “amicably.”
“We take this matter seriously and would like to apologise for the incident. We have since also counselled our employee accordingly….We would like to clarify that Iftar packs are offered free of charge to all Muslim customers during the month-long Ramadan period.”FairPrice's statement on the incident
Farah told the South China Morning Post that a FairPrice customer service officer did contact her on Monday and added that the couple appreciated the outlet’s quick customer service response.
However, they declined a hamper offered by the outlet manager as an apology and said, “I reinforced to (the officer) that our intention is not for the staff to be reprimanded but to create awareness and hope that this translates into better staff training especially for customer-facing staff members."