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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pizza Hut admits mistake, apologises to PJ councillor

Pizza Hut's senior staff have apologised for barring wheelchair-bound Petaling Jaya city councillor Anthony Thanasayan from dining at the fast food eatery's Mid Valley Megamall branch on Monday.

The apology was tendered during a three-and-a-half hour meeting between Thanasayan and Pizza Hut staff at a hotel in the Mid Valley complex this morning.

mppj oku disabled person carpark launch 231208 anthony thanasayanDuring the meeting, Thanasayan (right) accompanied the Pizza Hut staff to the branch to demonstrate how he was stopped from dining there on Monday by the branch manager.

"They had acknowledged and accepted the fault of the manager. They apologised fully for what had happened," Thanasayan toldMalaysiakini after the meeting.

"They did not justify or defend the outlet manager. The discussion went well," said Thanasayan, 53, an activist for the disabled community and animal rights.

'Pizza Hut does not discriminate'

On Monday, Thanasayan was at the Pizza Hut outlet in Mid Valley Megamall with a friend for lunch. However, the outlet manager allegedly refused to serve him on grounds that the company had ano-wheelchair policy.

However, the company's staff told Thanasayan today that there was no such policy.

"They said Pizza Hut outlets are disabled-friendly, as there are certain areas in every outlet that have a larger space for the disabled to move around," he said.

Thanasayan added that the company staff were also open to his suggestions on how to ensure that Pizza Hut outlets are barrier-free, that the staff are properly trained and on conducting spot checks on the staff.

"They said they had to convene a meeting with the CEO and higher authorities to look into this matter, and then they would get back to me on this.

"I am not against Pizza Hut but I am against the attitude of some people in Pizza Hut who mistreat the disabled," he said.

I've never been discriminated before

Thanasayan said the company staff also admitted that the company had issued a press statement earlier today, which erroneously claimed that he was offered a "more comfortable and spacious" area in the outlet.

"I was not offered a seat in the restaurant, in fact, no one came to our service.

"The place was half-empty during the lunch hour on Monday. We wanted to sit inside but a waitress told us rudely that wheelchairs cannot fit inside, but I defied her and I went inside.

"That is when I called the manager and the manager defended her and said that wheelchairs are not allowed in the premises."

Thanasayan said the incident was his first experience of discrimination as a disabled person and he hoped such an incident would never happen to anyone again.

"I was so humiliated. I went home and cried that night, because never in my life have people discriminated me because of my disability.

"I fought very hard all my life for the rights of the disabled and never to this day and age, have I been spoken to that way," he said.

Repeated attempts have been made to contact Pizza Hut senior general manager Low Kang Moon for comments, but to no avail. Low was the most senior Pizza Hut staff member who met with Thanasayan today.

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