NTUC FairPrice apologizes to Muslim Couple after employee insists Ramadan snacks only for Malays

NTUC FairPrice apologizes to Muslim Couple after employee insists Ramadan snacks only for Malays

NTUC FairPrice has apologized to a Muslim couple after one of its employees insisted that complimentary snacks provided to Muslim customers during Ramadan were only for Malays.

Farah Nadya and her husband, Jahabar Shalih, were grocery shopping with their two young children at Our Tampines Hub’s NTUC FairPrice outlet on Sunday evening when a male employee “shooed” them away from the snack stand.

Mr Jahabar is Indian, while Ms Farah is Indian-Malay.

In Ms Farah’s Facebook post, she wrote, “Fairprice was handing out free items for Muslim patrons who needed to break their fast. So 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”.”

Her husband was in disbelief and exclaimed, “WHAT??”.

She wrote that the staff repeatedly said, “Not for India, don’t take. Go away!” So basically he tried his best to shoo us away!

Mr Jahabar tried to explain to him, “Uncle, next time don’t say like that. This is for all Muslims. Don’t say Indian or Malay who can take or can’t take. Not all Malays are Muslims and some Indians can be Muslims.”

Ms Farah alleged the staff retorted by saying, “I don’t know. I no education, the top people tell me to say like this. I don’t know. Just go away”

She wrote, “Dear Fairprice SG, this is incredibly distasteful and we can’t even express how shocked we are. My husband is Indian-Muslim and I’m Malay-Indian and we’re both Muslims. Guess what’s the best part? We were not even intending to take the free goodies but just stopped by the stand to applaud such an inclusive initiative. But I guess we spoke too soon. Come on Fairprice SG… This is 2023. I’m sure we can do better!”

The Facebook post has received over 1.4k shares and over 800 reactions.

FairPrice Group rolled out its Iftar Bites station on 23 March, offering complimentary beverages with snacks or dates at 60 of its outlets to Muslim customers during the month-long Ramadan period.

As part of the initiative, Muslim customers are given refreshments, such as canned drinks and Milo packets, 30 minutes before and after Iftar, the meal taken after evening prayers during Ramadan. These are placed on tables in the supermarkets, with a sign to Muslim shoppers to help themselves as they break fast.

After the incident, Mr Jahabar and his wife had to tell their son that the employee was mistaken.

Responding to CNA’s queries about the incident, FairPrice said it had engaged the couple “to address their concerns” and had closed the matter “amicably.” The spokesperson added that this is the 15th year FairPrice is running the community initiative.

Confirming that a FairPrice customer service officer had contacted her on Monday, Ms Farah said that the couple appreciated the quick customer service recovery by FairPrice and had declined a hamper offered by the outlet manager as an apology.

Ms Farah reinforced that their intention was 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.

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