Picture of Hindu Deity Beside Halal Logo on Water Bottle Labels Creates a Stir in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 — A mineral water company said today it will remove all bottles with labels featuring Hindu deity Lord Murugan near its “halal” logo, but urged for understanding that the slip-up was not meant to offend Muslims.

Chuan Sin Sdn Bhd, the firm that bottles the Cactus Natural Mineral Water, explained in a statement here that the photograph was actually of Batu Caves and was selected as part of the company’s promotion of tourism hotspots in Malaysia in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2014.

Chuan Sin Sdn Bhd deputy general manager Chong Mee Yoong said as a “proudly” homegrown Malaysian brand, the company has been leveraging on Malaysian events through its packaging in order to establish a connection with its local consumers.

“We have been promoting the wonders and attractions of Malaysia and have been working with Tourism Malaysia for this purpose for more than 20 years.

“This year, Cactus has been proud to support Visit Malaysia Year 2014 by featuring a new series of well-known attractions in Malaysia on its bottle pack label,” Chong said.

She said Batu Caves was chosen as it is an “awe-inspiring” landmark and a major tourism draw in Malaysia.

“We would like to stress that it was never our intention to be disrespectful, cause unease or to offend anyone,” Chong said, before thanking members of the public for raising the issue to the firm’s attention.

“We deeply value the relationship between Cactus Natural Mineral Water and Malaysians, and we take pride in ensuring our customers’ satisfaction,” she added.

As added reassurance, Chong said all mineral water bottles featuring the Batu Caves photograph will be removed from the shelves.

The firm will also cease production of bottle with that particular label, she said.

“Moving forward, we will ensure that more viewpoints are consulted before producing a similar series to prevent such a misunderstanding from recurring,” Chong said.

Yesterday, the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) accused Chuan Sin Sdn Bhd of offending Muslim sensitivities by placing the image of Lord Murugan, a Hindu deity, near the “halal” logo on the labels of its Cactus brand bottled water.

Earlier today, both PPIM and another Muslim group, Pejuangan Warisan Islam Melayu Malaysia (PEWARIS), demanded that the police investigate the mineral water bottler for sedition, among others.

“We want the police to investigate this matter and take the appropriate action, may it be the Sedition Act or any relevant act.

“This matter is sensitive to the Muslims of the country,” said PPIM head of monitoring and financial services Sheikh Abdul Kareem after lodging a police report here today

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