KUALA LUMPUR: The revelation of corruption among Malaysian enforcement personnel in the halal meat scandal has opened yet another can of worms when it was claimed that the cartel’s involvement was at the policy-making level.
Malaysia Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) lead activist Datuk Nadzim Johan said the cartel had a hand in influencing policy-makers that it was cheaper to import the meat products than producing them locally.
“They (syndicate members) have contacts with the higher-ups and influence the policy-makers against making any decisions that could affect their profit and threaten their business.
“It is a practice of the syndicates to approach not just government officials, but also non-governmental organisations like us. They will try to cut a deal with us to keep us silent.”
He claimed that he had been contacted by people who were involved in criminal activities in the past who were attempting to do so.
“It’s a matter of whether we give in to such temptation (money). As far as we are concerned, we don’t have to entertain these people,” he told the New Straits Times.
At a press conference on Thursday that was streamed live on Facebook, Nadzim claimed that based on insider information, the meat cartel had a hand in influencing policy-makers and had pushed against breeding cattle locally by claiming that it was cheaper to import beef.
This, he said, had led to Malaysia being heavily reliant on imported meat.
He said that although the association’s main focus was to seek solutions to the country’s halal food issues, he believed the meat cartel issue also revealed the country’s under-developed livestock industry that required urgent attention.
Nadzim said there was a pressing need for an overall review of the system.
He believed the low salary of enforcement officers in Malaysia could be why some of them would resort to accepting bribes to survive, even if it meant compromising the halal status of the food for the Muslims here.
Nadzim said the meat cartel scandal would also have an adverse impact on Malaysia’s image as the world’s leading halal hub.
The recent expose by local media, including the NST, had prompted assurances of all-out investigations and system reviews by the various agencies involved, including the Department of Islamic Development which was responsible for issuing halal certificates.
The police reported that since Jan 27 last year, over 20 tonnes of frozen meat and dry goods smuggled into the country and worth RM2 million were seized.
In Johor, two directors of a frozen meat company were recently charged at the Sessions Court with using fake halal logos on their company vehicles used to transport the goods.
The issue was also debated at the recent Dewan Negara sitting, where Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Rosol Wahid gave his ssurance that the country’s three largest frozen meat suppliers, the Allana Group, Amroon and Al-Aali, were certified halal.
The NST on Dec 21 had reported that a meat cartel was bribing senior officers from government agencies to bring in non-certified meat into Malaysia which was passed off as halal products.
It was learnt that the cartel imported meat from non-halal certified slaughterhouses in a number of countries abroad.
It was understood that the cartel had been in operation for more than 40 years.
Article by: New Straits Times
NGO: MEAT CARTEL HAS LINK AT POLICY-MAKING LEVEL – NEW STRAITS TIMES