PAS MP backs call to ban jawi script on products by non-Muslims

Rows of neatly stacked products are seen in a supermarket. PAS MP Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff said the proposal for a ban of the jawi script on the packaging of non-Muslims’ products should be considered as the writing system has allegedly been misused to deceive consumer. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Rows of neatly stacked products are seen in a supermarket. PAS MP Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff said the proposal for a ban of the jawi script on the packaging of non-Muslims’ products should be considered as the writing system has allegedly been misused to deceive consumer. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22 — The proposal for a ban of the jawi script on the packaging of non-Muslims’ products should be considered as the writing system has allegedly been misused to deceive consumers, PAS MP Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff claimed today.

Siti Zailah, who chairs the Islamist party’s bureau for workers and consumers, supported the reported proposal yesterday by the Malaysian Chambers of Entrepreneurs Business Development (MCED) for a special law to prohibit such use.

While acknowledging that it is not a popular idea and poses the risk of increasing racial tensions, Siti Zailah argued that this proposal could resolve multiple issues if proposed in Parliament as a special law and outlined her reasons for supporting the call.

“Because the reality is, jawi script has been misused, manipulated and there are elements of deception towards consumers,” the Rantau Panjang MP claimed in a statement carried on PAS mouthpiece Harakah Daily’s website.

Siti Zailah said non-Muslims should not be using jawi script to market their products if it was so “bad and evil” as allegedly portrayed by them, arguing that they had allegedly insulted jawi script and accused it to be purportedly part of a “movement” for Islamisation.

Yesterday, local daily Sinar Harian reported MCED president Datuk Nazilah Idris as urging the government to take action, as there were allegedly instances where the jawi script was used to confuse consumers on whether a product is halal or permissible for Muslims to use.

In her statement today, Siti Zailah said the jawi script has high dignity among Malay-Muslims, and that it would be unfair to have the writing system used as a “tool” to attract consumers and for profit purposes.

“It will certainly not be fair, and this proposal is also suitable for application on the implementation of signboards and others. It should not be used simply without meaning, what more if it is just to wrongfully pull the wool over consumers’ eyes and cheat,” she said.

Siti Zailah went one step further by proposing a review of the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia’s (Jakim) logo to certify halal status for businesses and products, suggesting the dropping of jawi script in the halal logo for non-Muslim businesses.

“Ironically, the use of Jakim’s halal logo should also be amended, that is, not using jawi calligraphy for businesses, premises or products that are not owned by Muslims. As this gives a personal right to consumers to make alternative choices without any doubts,” she said, suggesting that disputes towards Islam and its symbols allegedly raised the issue of dishonesty without elaborating further.

Siti Zailah stressed that many businesses were still allegedly misusing the jawi script and halal logo, while noting that the authorities’ enforcement against such cases are dependent on complaints being lodged.

“More important than that, this is an approach to ‘teach’ those who have been all these while proud and arrogantly destroying the reputation of the religion, the congregation and everything related to Islam. May it be a lesson and be able to rationalise again the emotional actions of those involved,” she said, without elaborating who she was referring to.

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