By: Razak Chik | Published in Astro Awani on June 3, 2014
NO animal attracts so much derisive aversion to the muslim Malaysian mindset than Little Miss Piggies’ kith and kin.
There’s no livin’ nor puttin’ up with the puppet Muppet; no Siree!
The porcine putsch is wholly derived from the religious edict that pork is not to be consumed and is deemed HARAM (illegal according to religion). You cannot raise it for personal nor commercial profit, handle it for consumption and therefore the safe thing is to; Keep Your Distance!
How far a distance? Nothing can be more appallingly stomach churning then when you have a close encounter of the digestively intimate type; eating it!
No muslim would go out of their way to reach out for it, grab it, unwrap it and ingest it. So when they do learn that they have had it, unwittingly thrust down their throat, that’s when all Hell breaks lose.
So, we witnessed so much gut-wrenching soul-searching as well as blame-gaming when some Cadbury chocolates were discovered to harbour some porcine presence.
Malaysians pride themselves in the plethora of the food they pile on their plate, if not the junk they stuff down their gullet in the pursuit of one of the seven deadly sins – gluttony.
This pre-occupation with our so-called culinary delights – we always claim there’s nowhere else in the world can one have food morning, noon or midnight – is both a boon and plenty of times; a bane.
A boon to our craving for gastronomic gratification; and a bane when we find it so hard to win in the battle of the bulge.
For muslims of this country, looking for food that is HALAL – meaning its rearing or raising methods, slaughter and preparation prior to consumption must conform to strict religious edicts – is taken for granted. HALAL, to the uninitiated, is similar to the Jewish concept of kosher.
So when every now and again porcine contamination rears its ugly head, the muslim community becomes all worked up at this failure to keep the food pipeline pure.
The recent brouhaha started in late May when the Health Minister announced that the ministry confirmed claims that a batch of Cadbury chocolates had porcine contamination.
How this came about, who picked out the so-called random sample from a specific grocery shelf is a mystery to me. Whatever the circumstances, that offending sample was found by the Health Ministry to have been tainted by porcine DNA. How did it get there? I know not, for now.
This news of food contamination immediately got many muslims riled up. Nothing can bring out their collective ire than someone trying to feed them pig poison.
The first institution that came for scrutiny was JAKIM – the Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia Agama. Translated it means Islamic Development Department.
It is the body empowered by statute to set standards, inspect and enforce all provisions in the relevant Acts that govern the production, provision, preparation, conveyance and purveyance of items that are offered for Muslim consumption; among others.
It alone has the authority to issue the HALAL stamp – displayed in its Arabic script on food packets, wrappers and boxes as well as store front premises. You find them at the front door of such outlets of fast food joints like the ubiquitous McDonalds and KFCs.
With JAKIM’s endorsement, you can simply tear the wrapper and chomp away at your favourite chocolate.
Not that is, until that fateful day when porcine presence was detected.
Organisations like the PPIM (Persatuan Pengguna Islam Malaysia) or Muslim Consumers’s Association of Malaysia who are always in the forefront of efforts to preserve and assert muslim consumer rights.
They took everyone in this food chain to task – Cadbury for the porcine presence, JAKIM for its perceived impotence and the Health Ministry for not pursuing Cadbury all the way to the courtroom prosecution.
To its credit, Cadbury quickly isolated the offending batch with precise information of its consignment. We all wait to see how its PR machinery can react effectively enough from now on to reclaim customer confidence.
When something like this happens, it pays not to shoot first and ask questions later.
A full week after the scandal broke - on Monday morning; yesterday - the media was hastily summoned to a media conference called by JAKIM. It promptly made the announcement that, no pig DNA was found in Cadbury products.
Do not, for one moment, think this episode has come to a close by that one news conference. There’s so much unanswered questions still hanging up in the air that you can be rest assured that there wil be sequels galore to Miss Muppet’s woe.
Watch this space. Oink! Oink!