It was not race, but rather the loss of control, that led to KFC workers punching a customer in the face, a psychologist suggested.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) associate professor Alvin Ng said the i-City KFC workers might have felt that they lost control after being unable to provide fried chicken to a horde of hungry customers on Tuesday night.
So when customer Danny Ng threatened to file a complaint, the workers snapped and the former was assaulted.
“Danny wanted his fried chicken, but since he couldn’t get his chicken, he probably felt like he lost control…He probably thought that by complaining, he would get his control (back).
“We (tend to) demand for control by raising our voice… (Danny) tried to exert his control by doing what he felt was right. (So) he shouted, and (by) requesting for the manager, he thought he got control,” Ng told FMT.
Workers felt the same way
With dozens of annoyed customers waiting for chicken that night, KFC workers might have felt the same way, if for different reasons.
According to Ng, the fast-food chain’s demanding environment, lack of chicken and possibly rude customers might have led the workers to confront Danny en masse.
It did not help that Danny chose to air his views loudly, along with a threat to capture their actions on camera.
“If you force anyone into a corner, they would react back. The KFC people probably felt cornered and reacted… Perhaps Danny came (across) as a bit unruly.
“His complaint might have induced blame (or) fault-finding…When you have a business that is customer-driven, I suppose the workers would be pretty united. (They would) call in allies as one of the ways to feel empowered,” explained Ng.
“They are kitchenhands… It is not their job to deliver chicken to the outlet. But people being people probably took it personally, and with customers calling them stupid and all that, it took things to a bigger conflict,” he added.
On Feb 6, Danny went to the i-City KFC outlet in Shah Alam at 10:15pm to use RM132 in coupons.
These coupons, he told reporters yesterday, would expire on Feb 7.
He was however made to wait for 45 minutes before being told by KFC staff that they had run out of fried chicken.
Annoyed, Danny wanted to complain to a manager and would later return with a handphone to take photos of the purportedly aggressive staff.
At this point, the KFC kitchen staff stormed out from behind the counter and confronted him. One of the workers then punched him in the face, grabbed Danny around the neck and kicked him.
The attack was filmed as part of a 28-second video, which circulated across the Internet, causing a massive uproar.
Danny would later be told to quickly leave the outlet, as the kitchen workers had allegedly called for their friends to come and presumably beat him up.
KFC Malaysia had since suspended the workers involved in the attack and lodged a police report over the matter as well.
Not race related
“They’ve learned to respond to problems in that way, and have probably seen it work somewhere else before…(They may) be predisposed to solving issues by letting out with physical anger,” he said.
As far as the psychologist was concerned, both parties were in the wrong.
Danny, he said, could have chosen to write a letter to the fast-food chain’s top management. The KFC workers on the other hand, could have advised annoyed customers that night to do the same.
“There is no point for them to try to defend themselves when they have no chicken,” he said.
Ng also stressed that the debacle had nothing to do with race, even though Danny was Chinese and his attackers were Malays.
Anyone, he said, who tried to connect the dots between the two, was only going to make matters worse.
“If you put it as a race (issue), it’s not going to help. It’s cause and effect. If you make it a racial matter, you give it more cause, and (as a result) get more of a negative effect,” Ng added.