The tainted meat of Malaysian corruption

Erna Mahyuni
·3-min read
Erna Mahyuni
Erna Mahyuni

DECEMBER 23 — Forty years: That is how long a meat-smuggling cartel has been operating, aided by government officials paid to turn a blind eye.

It is funny that weeks after a popular local food chain was accused of serving non-halal meat, we find out that meat from questionable sources has been on sale to the public all this time.

The reports state that it was easy to sell the meat to wholesalers and markets who thought they were just getting certified meat for better prices.

Forty years. That’s a long time and it must have taken a lot of people, and a lot of bribes, to stay under the radar.

Malaysia has spent millions on creating and marketing its halal certification, while also making it a laborious and expensive process to get that precious halal stamp.

What is irksome is the public outcry is nowhere near as hysterical as when Cadbury was accused of having pork-tainted products or when the food chain incident happened.

My theory is that previous incidents fit the often-touted racist narrative that “outsiders” were maliciously duping innocent Malaysians.

This incident involved outsiders, perhaps, but it was abetted knowingly by Malaysians who know just how sensitive an issue halal certification is.

It is also why when previous heads of Tabung Haji were accused of mismanagement and corruption, there was little ire but when Pakatan Harapan was in charge, suddenly there were angry accusations that Tabung Haji had been looted by DAP-friendly people.

Double-standards? Certainly. What is far more troubling is that it demonstrates just how endemic corruption is.

It makes no logical sense that eating pork or non-halal meat is somehow worse than taking the fruits of corruption.

Somehow the notion of dirty money is alien to Malaysia. “Dirty” money can instead be explained away as rezeki (providence).

There is something wrong with the Malaysian psyche that we have people obsessed with where meat comes from but not where money comes from.

There is plenty of questioning of the origin of chicken char siew in a chain’s mi kari but no one asks where the money comes from when politicians throw lavish wedding bashes or fly their whole families business class.

Malaysians have become so used to questionable displays of wealth that they are accepted; to the point takers of bribes are shameless enough to buy Rolls-Royces despite being only junior officers.

It is obvious that the MACC has failed. All the big fishes it has claimed to catch, in the end all swim away while hapless and careless underlings get netted.

Why aren’t religious figures doing more to remind Malaysians that dirty money is non-halal too?

I remember growing up to ads on television demonising drugs and constantly reminding me that the penalty for possession (in large amounts) was death.

If we can educate children about the dangers of being a drug mule why then can we not launch public campaigns to discourage corruption?

The government owes us that much after that terrible Siti Nurhaliza Cinta IT (Love IT) song and the equally terrible AIDS dikir barat, the latter still rings in my ears decades later.

Hire Altimet. Ask him to do a catchy jingle and maybe, if there’s money left over, hire Siti too. If we’re lucky, maybe the song will annoy politicians as much as they annoy me with their spending antics. This generation too deserves their terrible, government-sponsored jingles.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

Related Articles Court to hear Abdul Azeez’s bid to quash graft, money laundering charges on Jan 25 Saudi ‘mini Ritz’ corruption crackdown evokes awe, fear Immigration man charged with taking RM21,500 bribes to let foreign offenders exit Malaysia