KUALA LUMPUR – The sole Hindu stakeholder of Malaysia’s largest Indian-Muslim nasi kandar chain is considering quitting the business following persistent attacks against his religion on social media.
Datuk D. Murugan, also known as Ramesh, who holds a 25 per cent stake in Pelita Samudra Pertama (M) Sdn Bhd said he was disappointed with the criticism on him being a Hindu in a Muslim-majority company.
Ramesh said the issue has plagued him since 2012 when a newspaper clipping showing himself and then MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel at a Hindu temple ground-breaking ceremony was doctored to show that the temple was erected in front of a Pelita outlet, The Star daily reported today.
The issue has since been shared again on social media, and Ramesh said many then questioned his involvement in the business in addition to accusing him of funding the construction of a Hindu temple using Pelita profits.
Responding to the issue, he told a news conference in Penang yesterday that not only all 25 Pelita outlets nationwide are halal-certified, but the company also has its own chicken slaughterhouse in Juru.
“Our restaurants are also closed an hour on Fridays for Muslim workers to perform their prayers,” he was quoted saying.
Pelita started out as a small nasi kandar stall in a corner coffeeshop in Chai Leng Park, Prai back in 1995, ran by three friends, Kirudu Mohamed Kuppaikanni, Kaliq Jamal and Ramesh.
Ramesh said two more stakeholders joined in 1996, Kirudu’s son Datuk K.K. Sihabutheen, and Datuk Uswath Khan.
The chain has since opened its first overseas branch in Chennai, India, and the Pelita group has also branched out into the hospitality business.
Ramesh said Muslims now make up 65 per cent of the chain’s frequenters.
Separately, Penang mufti Datuk Wan Salim Mohd Noor told The Star that Ramesh’s religion is not an issue with the Muslim-majority business.
“Ramesh’s involvement not only does not contradict Muslim teachings but is also good for the multiracial Malaysian spirit of supporting each other,” said Wan Salim.
– Malay Mail