KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 26 — Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is the latest politician to call for a thorough government investigation into the so-called “meat cartel” — a syndicate said to have been passing off non-halal imported meat as halal for decades in Malaysia.
In a statement today, the PKR president said the “immoral activity” should be a wake-up call for everyone, including the government, to step up the fight against corruption as it has tarnished the image of Islamic halal regulators.
“This scandal has tarnished the reputation and image of the institution entrusted with maintaining and protecting Islamic standards,” he said in a statement today without naming names.
“Despite receiving a not insignificant amount almost every year, this scandal has damaged public trust in the institution.
“We must stop the rot. I also urge the government and ministries to conduct a thorough, methodical and transparent investigation immediately and bring the masterminds to justice.”
The story first broke on Monday (December 21) when it was revealed that senior officers from at least four government agencies are believed to be working hand-in-glove with a cartel specialising in bringing non-certified meat, including kangaroo and horse, into Malaysia and passing it off as halal-certified products.
Unnamed sources were quoted by the New Straits Times (NST) as claiming these senior officers, entrusted with ensuring that halal standards are upheld, have instead received bribes and sexual services, in exchange for ensuring the cartel’s operations go undetected.
It is understood that the cartel has been in operation for more than 40 years, and is said to import meat from non-halal-certified slaughterhouses in countries such as Brazil, Bolivia, Canada, Colombia, Spain and Mexico.
The only countries that have been certified by the Malaysian authorities for the import of halal meat are Australia, Argentina, Brazil, India, South Africa, Pakistan, Japan, New Zealand and the United States, with imports handled by Jakim and the Veterinary Services Department.
Similarly, the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services Department, Customs Department and port police are in charge of managing the supplies once they enter Malaysian ports, and it is believed officials from that agency are also implicated.
On December 23, NST reported Jakim has appealed for all parties to refrain from speculating about the “meat cartel” case.
Any speculation could potentially compromise the credibility of the investigations into the allegations, said its deputy director-general (operations) Datuk Abdul Aziz Jusoh.
“Referring to the news articles on the issue of smuggled meat that were published by a local newspaper, once more Jakim would like to stress that the case is still being investigated by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry.
“Therefore, all parties are advised to refrain from giving comments, remarks and opinions (or make any) speculation that can compromise the credibility of this case,” he said.
Aziz said any speculation on the issue could have a detrimental effect on the country’s halal certification process, the meat industry as a whole, as well as importers and industry players who abide by the rules and obtain the necessary halal certification through proper channels.