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Allah socks weren’t sold – just on sale briefly and soon removed! Were they planted locally?

By P Ramakrishnan

It’s very clear that neither KK Mart nor its local supplier had ordered socks bearing the word “Allah”. Then how did the socks – only five pairs – reach KK Mart?

This issue has spiralled out of control. A petrol bomb was thrown at KK Mart in Bidor. Lives have been threatened. Unreasonable demands were forced on the supplier company by a flash mob and NGOs.

If some Muslims, particularly the Muslim politicians, were upset that socks bearing the word “Allah” were on sale, it is perfectly understandable. It is shocking that such socks could be manufactured for sale.

Was it done deliberately or out of ignorance? That is a moot point for debate. Knowing that it would enrage the Muslims and affect their business, would a sensible and rational non-Muslim outlet like KK Mart take the risk and display such socks for sale? The repercussions would be disastrous leading to the possible closure of their business.

KK Mart were not even aware that such socks existed in their premises – then, how come they were on sale at their outlet at Sunway? It is a mystery because KK Mart did not place an order for them.

KK Mart’s supplier also stressed that it had never intentionally ordered socks with such wording, and that its orders were made based on the samples provided.

It’s very clear that neither KK Mart nor its local supplier had ordered socks bearing the word “Allah”. Then how did the socks – only five pairs – reach KK Mart?

We were told that 18,800 regular socks were ordered. How these five stray pairs of socks found their way into this lot is something that cannot be explained. If anyone wanted to sabotage the KK Mart business, it would be logical to expect more socks to be included in the consignment sent to Malaysia from China so that there would have been a wider circulation of these socks for sale to outrage the Malay Muslims throughout the country. But it wasn’t the case!

For stock-keeping purposes, these socks would have been packed in 50s or 100s per pack to form a bundle of 1,000 socks. It is possible for a bundle of 1,000 socks to be included mistakenly. So how come only five pairs of these offending socks got slipped into the order placed by KK Mart? It doesn’t seem possible. It doesn’t make sense!

To their credit, KK Mart accepted responsibility in all sincerity for what had happened and pleaded an unfortunate mistake in what had occurred. Did they take this line hoping to stem the controversy immediately? It appears to be so. They must be complimented for this.

We need to know who designed these “Allah” socks. Was it the local supplier, Xin Jian Chang Sdn Bhd? We don’t know. Did the manufacturer in China, Mu Mian Qing Hosiery Co Ltd, come up with this design? We don’t know. Which country ordered these offending socks? We don’t know. Was there a ready large shipment of “Allah” socks waiting to be delivered? We don’t know.

There are many questions but unfortunately no answers. Under such circumstances, who is culpable for the production of these socks? Since only five pairs of socks were recovered from the KK Mart outlets, could they have been produced locally?

If there was no such order for these unusual socks, then pleading mistake for what was displayed does not justify KK Mart assuming responsibility for this.

The fact that only five pairs were supposedly found from the huge stock ordered, indeed, seems mysterious. It is difficult to rationalize how this could have been mistakenly included in the18,800 stock delivered to KK Mart.

On the other hand, could it be possible that these pairs of socks were planted by locals to sabotage KK Mart’s thriving business? Could a customer have stealthily added the socks to the pile meant for sale? If so, he must have an ulterior motive for going after KK Mart. Or was he an agent acting for the business rivalry intending to put KK Mart out of business?

Is it possible for a competitor to bribe a KK Mart employee with a large sum to plant these incriminating pairs of socks for sale in order to put KK Mart out of business? Was it an inside job?

Admittedly, these are all speculations but they cannot simply be dismissed when there is no acceptable explanation for the existence of these “Allah” socks. It is a probability! And it must be seriously taken into account.

It was very fortunate that none of the five pairs were bought by KK Mart customers. Otherwise, the issue would have been blown out of proportion. The Umno politicians would have had a field day fanning the flames of discord! For the record, no “Allah” socks were sold.

These five pairs are now in the possession of the police – thus they cannot be sold by KK Mart or bought by unsuspecting Malaysians. For this, we are indeed very grateful.

In spite of all these possibilities, Umno Youth leader Dr Muhammad Akmal Saleh is hell-bent in stirring up emotions by calling upon the Muslims to boycott KK Mart. The intention seems to be to put KK Mart out of business. He doesn’t seem to care two hoots that many Muslims are employed by KK Mart. In the event of a successful boycott of KK Mart, these Malay employees would be severely affected. They will be out of jobs and their families will suffer greatly. Does it bother Akmal? Evidently, it does not.

What is bewildering is that KK Mart had apologized twice. This printed apology is displayed in all their 88 outlets. They have taken every step to mollify Muslim sentiments and seek forgiveness for this seemingly unintended and honest mistake. But the call to boycott has not abated. It is persistent and unforgiving.

It is a matter of grave regret that there is no let-up. Even Umno secretary-general Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki had chipped in to announce that Umno is solidly behind Akmal’s move. Now it has become a big issue that will result in KK Mart paying a huge price with the possibility of it closing shop. How vindictive could these petty politicians be!

This issue has spiralled out of control. A petrol bomb was thrown at KK Mart in Bidor. Lives have been threatened. Unreasonable demands were forced on the supplier company by a flash mob and NGOs.

Among others, the group demanded that the company hang a banner to apologise for the incident in front of its factory for one month and create an apology video for social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

The NGOs also demanded that the company make donations to orphanages, Islamic schools or other organisations for the needy in the area.

It looks like the law has not been a restraining factor. This emotive issue is very much alive and there is no sign that it will cool down.

In true Islam, there is forgiveness. In the conduct of these Muslim politicians, this important Islamic virtue is totally absent. And the double standard practised is very glaringly obvious.

Take the case of Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Wan Saiful Wan Jan who was to be suspended for six months from the Dewan Rakyat for making unfounded claims of corruption against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. It was so serious that the Deputy Prime Minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, was scheduled to move this motion to suspend him. But Wan Saiful came to his senses and retracted his allegations and apologized. The apology was accepted and he was forgiven. That ended the matter.

But why is it so difficult to forgive KK Mart even after they have apologized not once, but twice? Has it anything to do with the ethnicity of the two characters involved? One is Malay and the other is Chinese. Is it easier to forgive a Malay than a Chinese?

According to Ayesha, “the Prophet (PBUH) never took revenge on his own behalf on anyone. She also said that he never returned evil for evil, but he would forgive and pardon.”

Why then are Akmal and Umno not able to forgive KK Mart? If they are claiming that they protecting the sanctity of Islam, isn’t it incumbent upon them to observe and honour the principles of Islam which emphasizes on forgiveness?

Following the uproar, KK Mart issued an apology to all its customers, especially the Muslim community, and confirmed that immediate action was taken to stop the sale of the socks.

“… I humbly apologise to all Malaysians, especially those from the Muslim faith,” said KK Super Mart founder Datuk Seri Dr K.K. Chai.

Doesn’t this amount to something? What more does Akmal and his ilk want?

It was further clarified, “We want to clarify that we have never intentionally ordered any socks with such words.” But Akmal is still at it without any let-up. He is, it seems, bent on destroying KK Mart for good.

The only sane voice in Umno was heard in Johor. Amidst the calls for a boycott, Johor Umno Youth chief Noor Azleen Ambros instead reminded the public that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) teaches Muslims to think positively of others and to give the benefit of the doubt.

“In the KK Mart issue, if we give them the benefit of the doubt, we try to think positively. If we can accept that it was a genuine and honest mistake, it will lead us to the second thing – which is about understanding.”

A 49-year-old businesswoman, Asmidaryati Awang, said Muslims are encouraged to forgive another’s mistake when they apologise. “If they didn’t apologise, I would boycott them. But they did.”

During the time of the Prophet (PBUH), there was an incident where a Bedouin entered his majesty’s mosque and urinated inside the mosque. Some of the friends who witnessed the event were angry.

However, the Prophet (PBUH) had asked them to calm down and bring him a container of water. He then washed the place where the Bedouin peed earlier. The Prophet (PBUH) did not hit the offending Bedouin.

Which is a greater offence – urinating in the Holy Prophet’s mosque by a non-Muslim or displaying Allah socks for sale?

Even Firdaus Wong, who took a photograph of the socks with the word “Allah” printed on them and viralled it causing an uproar called on the Muslims in the country to calm down and not take the law into their own hands.

It is intriquing to note why Firdaus did not buy that pair of socks. If he had, then there would be irrefutable evidence that KK Mart had indeed sold the socks with the offending words.

As matters stand, there is no evidence that KK Mart had sold any such socks. If any punishment is meted out, it would be undeserved. Would the Prophet’s Islam condone this?

(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)

P. Ramakrishnan, Former President of Aliran

28 March 2024

Rebuilding Malaysia
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