‘Allah’ socks controversy: Johor factory says licence remains valid, Batu Pahat council gave 30 days to respond

KUALA LUMPUR, — The Johor factory which was involved in the controversy over five pair of socks carrying the word “Allah” — which it had described as the only problematic socks forming part of a 18,800 pair ordered from China — today clarified that its business licence remains valid.

Xin Jian Chang Sdn Bhd said reports that suggested that the Batu Pahat Municipal Council (MPBP) had revoked its licence “are inaccurate”, explaining instead that the council has given a 30-day timeline for it to present a statement before a decision on its licence is made.

The company said its representatives were on March 19 informally invited through the text messaging app WhatsApp to meet with MPBP’s Yang Dipertua Ezahar Abu Sairin on March 20.

“During the meeting, we were presented with a notice alleging noncompliance with our business license conditions, specifically regarding packaging activities of stockings.

“By the same notice, the Batu Pahat Municipal Council has granted us 30 days from 20 March 2024, to submit a written statement before any decision is made regarding our license.

“Our business licence therefore remains valid until the Council considers our written submission,” it said in the statement released today and made available to Malay Mail.

The company added that it is currently seeking legal advice to safeguard its interests, and expressed appreciation for the support given by its partners and stakeholders and that it remains committed to overcoming this challenge.

Yesterday, MPBP issued a statement on its official Facebook account, which said it had presented a notice to cancel the business licence and a notice to close down business operations on Xin Jian Chang’s representative, over an alleged violation of the conditions for the approved business licence.

MPBP had said its actions were in line with its Trade, Business and Industrial Licensing By-laws 2016.

The factory, located at the Sri Gading Industrial Area in Batu Pahat, was yesterday reported to have been closed.

On March 19, Xin Jian Chang had issued a statement to apologise for any offence or distress caused by the regrettable incident of socks bearing the word “Allah”, saying it has never intended to produce or distribute products that could cause division or hurt sentiments within the community.

“We deeply regret any oversight in our quality control process that allowed these items to enter our inventory, despite our best efforts to ensure that all 18,800 socks received from our Chinese supplier were by the provided samples.

“We want to clarify that we have never intentionally ordered any socks with such words. All our orders are made based on samples provided, and we have consistently advised our Chinese suppliers to avoid providing us with products bearing words, symbols, or illustrations that could offend our Muslim community. This practice underscores our commitment to cultural sensitivity and respect in our business dealings,” it had said in its March 19 statement.

Xin Jian Chang had on March 19 said its China-based supplier Mu Mian Qing Hosiery Co Ltd had admitted that the five pairs of “problematic socks” were mistakenly included in the 18,800-pair order, and that it is currently seeking legal advice for possible legal action against the supplier over the latter’s negligence in fulfilling the order requirements.

The company had also said it will continue to fully cooperate in the police’s investigation, adding that it remains committed to maintaining harmony and respect among all communities in its business operations and is implementing stricter quality control measures to prevent similar occurrences.

“Furthermore, we express our grave concern over social media postings that have shared personal data, including the residential addresses of our key officers, and have even issued threats of violence, including burning down our factory and endangering lives,” the company had said.

On March 19, Johor state police raided the factory in response to reports lodged over the socks bearing the Arabic word for “Allah”, which were discovered for sale at the outlets of convenience store chain KK Mart in Bandar Sunway, Selangor. The police also said the factory had claimed to have bought those socks from a company in China.

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