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PUTRAJAYA, Nov 5 — Recent reports of Islamic Development Department (Jakim) officers soliciting bribes in exchange for halal certification could be a case of individuals posing as them, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa.
He said it is also not impossible that those going around charging high fees were third-party consultants.
“As you know, there are a lot of consultants who come under Jakim’s name. And sometimes these consultants charge such fees which is not even imposed upon those seeking halal certification,” Mujahid said to reporters during the Halal Inclusion Roundtable and Masterclass at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre.
The minister in charge of Islamic affairs said that such consultants or individuals do not reflect Jakim and its values, and instead encouraged those seeking halal certification to directly contact the department instead.
“Come to us, we will do all the necessary things as long as you follow our standards.
“If anyone feels they have been unfairly charged and wish to lodge a complaint, or just alert us of such individuals running about, please do so,” he said.
Mujahid added complaints of consultants imposing high fees are taken seriously, as their actions do not reflect both Jakim and its values.
“Halal certification is not just about making money, it is following the standards of one’s religious obligation.
“Consultants who are appointed by Jakim must adhere to the standards we place upon them, which includes their rates,” he said.
As for individuals posing to be Jakim officers, Mujahid said he has been approached before by those who applied for halal certification and asked why they had not received it despite waiting for at least over a year.
“When I asked further, they usually tell me it was someone from Jakim. Further checks reveal that these individuals are merely motivated by money.
“More often than not, they do not even follow our procedures and standards. While there are genuine consultants and the like out there, bogus persons posing as Jakim officers are also widespread,” he said.
The minister vowed that those impersonating Jakim officers and consultants tied to the department who charge unreasonable fees will face “harsh action”.
Mujahid was responding to an October 10 report by the Hong-Kong based media outlet Asia Sentinel, which highlighted corruption and competency issues within Jakim.
Among others, it is alleged the officers sought cash payments to register meat handling and processing facilities, as well as small businesses and food and beverage outlets, well beyond the standard fees imposed.
The minister said Asia Sentinel has yet to provide evidence for these claims, which he said is not right as it smears Jakim’s image as one of the world’s most trusted halal logos.
“I would not know what is the motive of such writing, as we have been unable to contact the office despite our checks.
“We are very interested to know who exactly is this officer or officers they claim are taking money. But without further evidence, they remain baseless accusations,” Mujahid said.
His deputy Fuziah Salleh had also demanded on October 12 that Asia Sentinel provide proof of its reported claims, given its serious and damaging nature.