KUALA LUMPUR: Soft drink giant Coca-Cola told Channel NewsAsia on Thursday (Dec 14) it does not support or oppose religious causes and stressed that any call to boycott its products in Malaysia over alleged links to Israel would only hurt its local employees.
A party championing business rights and interests, PEKIRA, had pledged on Wednesday to launch a campaign to urge businesses and the public to boycott products with links to Israel, in light of the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Coca-Cola Malaysia's country manager Ahmed Yehia said it had heard "some individuals and groups" calling for a boycott "on the back of false information and rumours".
"We wish to stress that Coca-Cola may be a global brand but all our bottling operations are local - so the very first people to be hurt by these boycott calls are our local employees, followed by the thousands of retailers, distributors, suppliers and others throughout our Malaysian supply chain who rely upon on us for their livelihood," he said in a statement.
"The Coca-Cola Company operates in more than 200 countries and territories across the globe with different political systems, religions and histories. Our goal is to refresh everyone. We do not support or oppose religious causes or favour one country over another anywhere in the world," he added.
Muslim-majority Malaysia has been a strong supporter of Palestine, with Prime Minister Najib Razak condemning the US move.
Protests have been held outside the US embassy and there have been calls for boycotts of American franchise McDonald's over alleged links to Israel as well.
McDonald's has denied these claims, lodging police reports against those spreading them.
The Malaysian arm of global pro-Palestine movement, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), told Channel NewsAsia on Thursday that Coca-Cola and McDonald's were not on its list of companies to boycott.
"We work with the global BDS movement and we choose our target based on our consultation with BDS National Committee (BNC). BNC conducts extensive research on companies to be targeted.
"Thousands of companies are linked to Israel. But some have direct or stronger links to atrocities and injustices conducted by Israel in Palestine ... such as Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, G4S and some other companies. We focus on the latter group," BDS said.