Malaysia: Hostel ban on non-westerners irk many

A hostel chain, which claims to cater to only western backpack travellers, and bans guests from India, the Middle East and Malaysia, is inviting strong criticism from different quarters over its "apartheid" policy.

Kuala Lumpur: A hostel chain, which claims to
cater to only western backpack travellers, and bans guests
from India, the Middle East and Malaysia, is inviting strong
criticism from different quarters over its "apartheid" policy.

The Reggae Mansion has said that it provided Western meals
and drinks which were not suitable for Muslims, and thus the
"ban" was out of respect for the religion, but many are not
buying the excuse for not accepting some nationalities.

Malaysia is a Muslim majority country which also has a
sizeable ethnic Indian and ethnic Chinese population.
However, no reason has been given for banning Indians from
checking into this hostel chain.

"Reggae Mansion is a hostel for Western international
travellers. We respect other ethnicities, cultures, religions
and their practices," it said in its website.
The hostel, which operates here and in Penang, also does
not accept bookings from wheelchair-bound people and those
aged above 60.

"As Reggae Mansion is a backpacker and party hostel, we
have an age limit of 60 as we want to ensure our elder
travellers find a comfortable place to sleep and rest," it
said.

However, the Star newspaper in its report quoted many
people as saying that they were unhappy with the explanation.
Blogger Sharizal Md Sidek, 28, said he had never
encountered such rules anywhere.

Ruling Umno party`s Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said
the hostel should not impose "an apartheid" policy and called
on people to "shame and shun" the establishment.

Mohd Ilyas Zainol Abidin, president of the Malaysian
Association of Hotels president, said Reggae Mansion`s rules
were unusual.

Hostelling International-Malaysia, the local branch of an
international network comprising 4,000 member hostels in more
than 80 countries, with 16 hostels in Malaysia, also disagreed
with the policy.

"Hostels are supposed to be open. These rules have
probably been put in place by the hostel to safeguard its own
interests," said the head of the local chapter Hamiruddin
Hashim.

Reggae Mansion is not a member of either MAH or Hostelling
International.

PTI