KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 25 — Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil has said today he hopes Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad will focus more on the halal meat cartel issue and take a proactive stance, rather than the recent case of Christmas wording on a cake.
He said the religious affairs minister should do so since it involves not just the doubtful halal status of the meat being sold in Malaysia, but also issues of graft and breach of trust.
“I hope @drzul_albakri will be more focused and proactive since it involves bribery, complacency, matters pertinent to government administration, breach of trust, and even treason,” the PKR MP said on his Twitter account, tagging Zulkifli.
This comes as Zulkifli yesterday said that halal-certified bakeries are not prohibited from taking orders meant for non-Islamic religious celebration provided that the products are not displayed in the premises.
Since yesterday, Zulkifli has since used his Twitter account to reply to numerous Malaysian users who has criticised him over his remark on the matter.
Responding to a report over a shop that allegedly refused a customer’s order to have a cake decorated with the wish “Merry Christmas”, the minister in charge of religious affairs said such a message is allowed contrary to the report — provided that it is not for display.
In the report, a customer said he was shocked when he received a cake with “Happy Holidays” when he had requested that it be decorated with the wish “Merry Christmas.”
The report said the store had refused so since in the process of getting a halal certificate, and then quoted an anonymous officer with the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) claiming that the halal logo issued by the Halal Management System cannot be used to promote other religions.
Subsequently, earlier this week it was revealed that senior officers from at least four government agencies are believed to be working hand-in-glove with a cartel specialising in bringing non-certified meat, including kangaroo and horse, into Malaysia and passing it off as halal-certified products.
Unnamed sources were quoted by the New Straits Times as claiming these senior officers, entrusted with ensuring that halal standards are upheld, have instead received bribes and sexual services, in exchange for ensuring the cartel’s operations go undetected.
It is understood that the cartel has been in operation for more than 40 years, and is said to import meat from non-halal-certified slaughterhouses in countries such as Brazil, Bolivia, Canada, Colombia, Spain and Mexico.
The only countries that have been certified by the Malaysian authorities for the import of halal meat are Australia, Argentina, Brazil, India, South Africa, Pakistan, Japan, New Zealand and the United States, with imports handled by the Jakim and the Veterinary Services Department.
Similarly the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services Department, Customs Department and port police are in charge of managing the supplies once they enter Malaysian ports, and it is believed officials from that agency are also implicated.
Zulkifli addressed the issue in a statement yesterday by saying Jakim would take the necessary actions according to its scope of authority in regards to the outcome of the probe into the case.
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