The Israel-Gaza conflict has led to unexpected consequences for Grab, the super app widely used in Malaysia. A controversy erupted when Chloe Tong, the wife of Grab CEO Anthony Tan, shared Instagram Stories expressing her love for Israel after visiting the country. Her posts were seen as sympathetic to Israel, sparking condemnation from many Malaysians who support Palestine.
Malaysians reacted swiftly, with some calling for a boycott of Grab. This move was part of a broader trend of boycotts affecting corporate entities in Malaysia with alleged ties to Israel. Even global chains like McDonald’s and Starbucks faced backlash due to perceived associations with Israel. McDonald’s Malaysia distanced itself, highlighting its Muslim ownership and donations to the Palestine Humanitarian Fund.
The controversy surrounding Chloe Tong’s Instagram posts reveals the sensitivity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within the Malaysian context. Social media amplified these divisions, triggering a heated debate. Moreover, as the wife of Grab’s CEO, Chloe’s words carried greater significance, considering Grab’s widespread local use.
Grab issues statement following controversy
In response to the controversy, Grab issued a statement emphasizing its stance on humanity, ceasefire, and peace. It declared opposition to violence and emphasized its alignment with the United Nations Global Compact’s principles and respect for human rights. However, super-app’s neutral stance faced criticism from some netizens, who believed that taking a neutral position was worse than not making a statement at all.
The controversy illustrates the challenges multinational companies like Grab face in diverse and multicultural societies. Grab sought to balance its massive Malaysian customer base and investors who hold varying positions on the Israel-Gaza conflict. Despite its efforts to navigate this difficult situation, Grab faced backlash from those advocating for a boycott.
The social media storm shows no signs of abating, with calls to uninstall the Grab app persisting. The super-app’s statement, shared across social media platforms, received over 2,000 Quote Tweets expressing support for the boycott. In conclusion, the controversy surrounding Grab’s CEO’s wife’s Instagram posts and the subsequent response from the company exemplify the challenges that corporations face when navigating complex geopolitical issues in a diverse and interconnected world, where even a neutral stance can stir passionate reactions among customers and stakeholders.