The owners of two restaurants in Penang are in hot water for displaying communist-themed wallpapers on the premises
According to Malaysiakini, one of the restaurants — located in Bukit Mertajam — was raided by the police on Saturday, 2 January, after receiving complaints from members of the public.
The wallpaper was removed and confiscated by the police, while five employees were detained for questioning.
The restaurant is run by a China national woman along with her Malaysian husband. The couple also has another outlet in George Town.
Both of them have not been brought in for questioning as they are currently under home quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The issue came to the public's attention on New Year's Day after photos of the communist-themed restaurant went viral
A caricature of Mao Tse Tung, the founding father of the People's Republic of China and a communist revolutionary leader, is blatantly displayed on the wallpaper.
The wallpaper also shows soldiers holding red books, while some can be seen saluting in their communist uniform.
Meanwhile, the tableware in the restaurant also has an explicit theme.
One photo shows a plate with a caricature of China President Xi Jinping overshadowing the Great Wall of China.
Despite the communist theme, the messages on the wall seem to not contain any propaganda
Instead, most of the words are satirical to the communist ideology.
One of the slogans on the wall reads, "Welcome my dear guest. The taste is fantastic! I like it very much. Please come again, my dear guest."
Meanwhile, a poem above two child-like soldiers says that customers who have dined here will be blessed with love, pass the entrance exams, hit a jackpot, and get promoted, among other well wishes.
Speaking to Malaysiakini, one of the owners who only wishes to be known as Joey said the Chinese text was just humorous culinary slogans
"The text is not about promoting communism, it does not even touch the topic of communism. The content is all about food and our restaurant," said the 35-year-old restaurateur.
Joey said she and her husband have been running the restaurants for four years, explaining that the designs on the premises were inspired by restaurants in her hometown.
"When I first saw this kind of design, I found it interesting and funny and thought it would attract customers (to take photographs and post online)," Joey said.
"When I started my own business, I decided to use this as a theme, but I really didn't expect that I would get in trouble with the law four years later."
The police are currently investigating the case under two separate provisions
According to New Straits Times, the case is being probed under Section 47 of the Societies Act 1966 for publishing propaganda of an unlawful society and Section 505(b) of the Penal Code for circulating any statement or report that might cause public unrest.
If convicted, the suspects could face up to two years' jail, a fine, or both for each offence.