Thursday, October 20, 2016

Anak dara Macik Anne: Sheer idiocy or a really bad corporate strategy?

Pic sourced from the internet.

To date, the explanation on Auntie Anne's halal status given by one of its executives on Facebook has garnered more than 8,000 shares. Safe to say, her post is now viral.

Sadly, this was a stupid move.

Actually, stupid doesn't even begin to cover it. It was idiotic and moronic. I say this because, the exec had posted the 'explanation' on her personal Facebook post, signing it off as 'Anak Dara Macik Anne', probably alluding to the recently famous Nasi Lemak Anak Dara, also courtesy of social media.

Allow me to detail why I think her explanation was stupid. First of all, she works for a company which, as logic would assume, must have a proper headquarters, complete with their own Public Relations or Corporate Communications department. They should because, the company that owns the Auntie Anne's franchise in Malaysia, Chrisna Jenio Sdn Bhd, is a registered private limited company and has been in operations since 1996. They also have 45 outlets across the country.

With that said, why didn't they issue an official statement? While many have been applauding the exec for providing an explanation, these people fail to see that what she did was actually rather juvenile.

However, the main reason why I feel her Facebook post was stupid was because she had opted to include the 'pretzel dog' bit in it.

If Auntie Anne's had bothered to issue a statement, any public relations officer with half a mind would not include 'sordid' details.

There is no reason to inform the public on why the application was rejected and get into specifics, especially when the bigger issue here is why has it taken 20 years for the pretzel chain to apply for a halal certification? What I would like to know is when did they first submit their application to Jakim?

This is why with regards to the whole 'dog' fiasco that blew up the past few days, I place the blame solely on the idiotic Facebook post by the exec.

I stress that there was no need for her to mention the 'pretzel dog' bit because according to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom today, he said Jakim never banned the name. Instead, he said that there were compromises that could be made.

"If (an establishment) wants to protect a name, compromises can be made in the sense as well. But for Auntie Anne's, it wasn't a rejection, it was just a proposal. At the end of the day, they can't be denied a certificate just because of the name," Jamil Khir said, as reported by a news report on Free Malaysia Today (FMT).

If the pretzel dog matter had never been mentioned, the internet would not have exploded over the past few days about food names.

It went from pretzel dogs to hot dogs to root beers, to turkey ham to beef bacon, even to the extent of UK's Daily Mail carrying a story, headlined, "Hot Dogs will be banned in Malaysia unless restaurants agree to change their name because they sound too 'dirty' to be halal.'

Of course this was clearly a spin of an epic proportion, and I can't blame the exec for Daily Mail's spin, I stand by the fact that this wouldn't have happened if only Auntie Anne's had the good sense of issuing an official statement.

And it's not just Daily Mail, our 'dog' issue has also been carried by the BBC, RT (Russian network), Fox News, CBS News, New York Daily News, and I don't know how many others. So I guess a 'congratulations' is in order for 'anak dara Macik Anne'.

This brings me to the question of whether the exec went rogue (on the explanation) or was it a corporate strategy by Chrisna Jenio Sdn Bhd?

Either way, both moves were stupid.

While maybe the exec enjoyed her 15 seconds of fame thanks to her Facebook post, and also, while many may disagree with me, I stand by what I say, that her move was idiotic and does not reflect the proper conduct of an employee, or a company (if this was a move sanctioned by the company). - FH

Stop telling me I'm confused!

(Pic credit Instagram @oskarandmeyerdachshunds)

My parents made sure I received proper education while I was growing up. Before I was 7, they sent me to kindergarten for a good 3 years. At home, the education did not stop. I was encouraged to read and by 6, I was reading the newspaper. There is also a picture of me at about 5 or 6, falling asleep with a copy of a political book by SH Alattas. Not sure what I understood from the book at the time, but my point is that I was not deprived of education. I was also exposed to good music at a young age. At 7, I entered the public education system and stayed there until I finished Form 5 with a Grade 1 in SPM.

My education continued after that and until today, I am still learning. My story is not unique. Many people in this country pretty much go through the same process. What we take away from all that education will of course differ from one person to the next. What I am trying to say is that we are not a nation deprived of education.

Which is why it makes me angry when people keep telling me, or in the case of the point I would like to make in this comment piece, Muslims in general, that we are easily confused.

Remember the Jolly Shandy incident some years back? Some 'concerned' Muslims were worried that the packaging of Jolly Shandy which to them looked like any normal soda drink, would confuse the Muslim population in this country.

Never mind the fact that for any Malaysian with a clear head, Jolly Shandy has always been and will forever be an alcoholic beverage which is placed next to other alcoholic drinks at the store. Also, the fact that the word alcohol is clearly printed on the can.

Just because a few people found it to be confusing, they saw it fit to 'warn' other Muslims on social media to be wary about the drink.

Today, something similar has cropped up again. Fomca said words like 'dog' and 'beer' should not be part of the menu as it would confuse Muslim customers. It is likely that Fomca was referring to the much-loved hot dog and root beer that has been part of our lives for as long as I can remember.

While we may have joked about hot dogs and root beers with our friends, I believe most of us are aware that we weren't actually eating cute puppies wrapped in bread or that we would be pulled over by policemen for drunk driving after drinking bottles of root beer.

For those who frequent Auntie Anne's, the famous pretzel kiosk, I highly doubt there were those who got confused over their pretzel dogs.

But somehow, we have always been told that we are easily confused.

"So and so should be banned because it might confuse Muslims."

How many times have we heard this line in news reports and how many times is it actually about truly confusing things?

I feel it is an insult because Islam is a religion that emphasises education. We are supposed to keep on learning for as long as we are living beings. Education is something that does not end once we leave school. With that said, why do people keep telling us we might be confused when logic dictates that at some point, we should be able to think for ourselves?

If one or two people are confused, is it right to simply generalise?

I was never confused with the Jolly Shandy drink and I sure am not confused by hot dogs, root beers, beef bacons and turkey hams.

I am also not confused whenever I go to a Malay stall selling kuih and I see dishes like badak berendam or cucur badak. Have you ever asked the makcik selling the kuih if her husband battled an actual badak to get its meat for her to make badak berendam?
A friend asked yesterday, what about bishop's nose? Good question I would say. How many bishops sacrificed their noses for us to be able to eat dishes with bishop's nose in it? This 'confused' Muslim can safely say that the answer to that question is zero.

Also, no buffaloes (with or without wings) were harmed in the making of buffalo wings.

In the case of this whole 'dog' fiasco, I believe societal norms should come into play. Some phrases are not literal. The phrase 'hot dog' may be confusing in a society that has never heard of sausages and hot dogs. The phrase 'buffalo wings' too may be confusing in a society where winged buffaloes are in existence and they have never ever had chicken wings.

This is Malaysia. Hot dogs are sausages. Beef bacon comes from cow. Turkey ham are from turkeys. And root beers will not make you drunk. So my advice to those who think they are doing the society a favour by warning it about this and that, think first before you issue your warning.

And stop telling us we are easily confused. While you may go through life drooling and wondering about how things work the way Homer Simpson would, most of us are not like you. Most of us are actually smart, intelligent people.

With that said, I will continue to enjoy my hot dogs and root beers. And I will not purchase a can of Jolly Shandy just because I got confused. I may use the confusion as an excuse if ever my parents catch me drinking Jolly Shandy, but that one would be on me. Hic. - FH