Anwar moots halal food for govt's free school breakfasts

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim suggested that the food for the free breakfast programme be sourced locally in the individual districts throughout the country. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim suggested that the food for the free breakfast programme be sourced locally in the individual districts throughout the country. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 8 — The government could source for halal food from entrepreneurs for the proposed free breakfasts in schools, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim suggested today.

Anwar, who is also PKR president, said he would seek to find ways to help entrepreneurs and talk to the relevant ministers.

Anwar suggested that the food for the free breakfast programme be sourced locally in the individual districts throughout the country.

“For example, now we have a good proposal from the Education Ministry to give food to students.

“We can do this through tender and a big contract to big bosses, or we can do through tender but with the conditions that it is mandatory to take food that is halal, of quality, and clean from all districts,” he said, adding that such food should also not have excessive sugar levels.

“If that is done, we have a project that maybe hundreds of million, spent on annually, but benefits thousands of people in a district,” the Port Dickson MP said at the Mines International Exhibition and Convention Centre.

Anwar said this concept which he termed as “payung” (umbrella) was in use when he was the finance minister in the past.

He spoke of a project to provide wooden chairs and tables to students, where the contract was given to a big company that was then required to find smaller companies to supply the items according to specifications.

“Means from one company, we give to 60 small and medium companies, with the majority also coincidentally Bumiputera (companies), to help,” he said of the example.

“This is what we can do, and this is included also in the government's approach of those among leaders who understand and care,” he said.

Anwar was speaking at a forum titled “Pemberdayaan Ekonomi Umat” (Empowerment of the people's economy), which was part of the Halal Fiesta Malaysia hosted by the Prime Minister's Department.

The event touted as Malaysia's largest halal expo was jointly organised by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) and the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (Maiwp).

In the same forum, Anwar spoke of how non-Muslims in Malaysia could learn about the Islamic approach through concepts such as halal (permissible for Muslims).

“So don't introduce a concept that can cause enmity. If we say halal is only for Muslims, Muslim entrepreneurs for Muslims only, it's not true.

“If for example products from Muslims, if we guarantee it is hygienic, we guarantee its quality, non-Muslims will also buy.

“Many non-Muslims in Malaysia who are successful economically, they produce products that are safer for us, if it is of quality, clean and halal, I see this as a positive initiative,” he said.

Anwar said the halal concept does not only cover whether a product has ingredients that are haram or forbidden to Muslims such as lard, or how an animal was slaughtered.

He said the halal concept instead means a product must be clean, fulfilling Shariah laws, be of good quality, efficient and excellent.

Anwar had recently criticised a campaign on social media to boycott products produced by non-Muslims, calling it an unhealthy method to promote halal products.

Earlier this week, the Cabinet had urged Malaysians to buy Malaysian products instead of boycotting products made by non-Muslims.

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