KUALA LUMPUR: Tests on frozen meat taken from the warehouse of the meat cartel under investigation showed that they are not pork, horse or kangaroo meat, says Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Rosol Wahid.
This was the outcome of the tests carried out by the Chemistry Department on samples of frozen meat taken from the warehouse, he said.
“The negative results from the Chemistry Department is a relief to us all, ” he said in reply to debate in the Dewan Negara yesterday.
He also rebutted various media reports alleging that the meat cartel’s activity had been ongoing for almost 40 years.
“It’s not true that the activity has been going on for almost 40 years because the ministry’s investigation revealed that the company involved was only registered in 2014 and obtained the licence to import frozen products in 2017, ” he said.
Rosol, who later visited a frozen meat importing firm in Selayang, said the country’s three largest frozen meat suppliers – the Allana Group, Amroon and Al-Aali – were among those guaranteed halal.
He said the Muslim community in the country should not worry about buying meat from these three companies.
Earlier, Bukit Aman CID director Comm Datuk Huzir Mohamed said 13 reports had been lodged against the cartel which used fake “halal label”, adding that its special investigation unit was probing the case under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code for causing public fear and alarm.
Initial investigations revealed that the illegal activity involved a wide network comprising local and foreign syndicates based on the total seizures and the value, he said.
“Our investigation will include the acquisition, storage, processing, smuggling as well as parties that have been manipulated or are in cahoots with the syndicates in bringing the frozen meat through Approved Permit.
“We are looking into this matter seriously and will work together with agencies, including the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry and the Customs Department, ” he said.
Separately, the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services Department (Maqis) is hoping that the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services Act 2011 (Act 728) will be amended next year to give the agency more bite.
Its director-general Saiful Yazan Alwi said amendment to the Act had been approved by the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry and was in the process of being reviewed by the Attorney General’s Chambers.“Currently, Maqis’ jurisdiction is only at entry points, quarantine stations and quarantine premises. If the Act is amended, the scope of enforcement can be expanded to beyond the entry points, including making arrests and filing charges, ” he said.
On the government’s consideration for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to be set up over the issue of questionable meat imports, Saiful Yazan said this could provide some answers to the people, especially in light of the allegations and in particular against enforcement agencies.
The Malay Consultative Council has called for the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to be revamped.
Its advisory board member Tun Hanif Omar said the department should relinquish its duty in issuing halal certification and for this role to be taken over by the Malaysian Halal Council.
“It is time that the council, whose functions were suspended by the previous administration, plays its role in matters related to the livestock industry, ” he said.
Among others, Hanif proposed for the setting up of a special taskforce comprising the Prime Minister’s Department, the state Islamic Religious councils, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Maqis, Customs, police and the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry.
The council, Hanif said, would submit its recommendations to the Malay Rulers to seek their wisdom in resolving the halal meat scandal.
Recently, authorities busted a cartel that had been smuggling meat from Ukraine, Brazil, Argentina and China, and then repackaging them with the halal logo.
A raid was carried out at a warehouse in Senai, Johor, where 1,500 tonnes of frozen meat worth RM30mil were seized.
The cartel, believed to have been operating for a few years, had allegedly been using the warehouse as a location to make fake labels and stamps to be pasted on packages of uncertified meat.