Minister Keeps the Freeze on Port Beef

| 07/06/2009 | Reply

The Agriculture Ministry’s Quarantine Agency has held up at least 100 containers of Australian and New Zealand beef at Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok port for two weeks. (Photo: Safir Makki, JG)

The
Agriculture Ministry’s Quarantine Agency has held up at least 100
containers of Australian and New Zealand beef at Jakarta’s Tanjung
Priok port for two weeks.
(Photo: Safir Makki, JG)


With
the presidential election and the end of his term looming, Agriculture
Minister Anton Apriyanto seems to believe that he alone has the right
to decide what meat is halal and what meat isn’t, no matter what the
Indonesian Council of Ulema, Coordinating Ministry for the Economy or
the trade minister might have to say.

At least that’s the
inference that could be drawn from the continuing refusal by the
Agriculture Ministry’s Quarantine Agency to release at least 100
containers of Australian and New Zealand beef impounded at Jakarta’s
Tanjung Priok port, on the grounds that the meat isn’t halal — despite
a directive to the contrary from the Economy Ministry.

Anton
is a member of the staunchly Islamic Prosperous Justice Party (PKS),
although what role, if any, his party affiliation is playing in the
saga of the delayed meat remains unclear.

The containers have
been stuck at the port since May 20, with the Quarantine Agency arguing
that the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) says the meat is not halal.

On
Thursday, a deputy at the Economy Ministry , Bayu Krisnamurthi, stated
that the meat was halal and that the government had ordered the release
of the containers.

Later on the same day, an unmoved Anton
said he was going to order the importers to send back all of the
containers that arrived after March 25. Only those that arrived before
that date would be released.

He referred to a March 25 letter
from the MUI, which he said claimed that meat from some Australian and
New Zealand slaughterhouses was not halal.

However, the
Economy Ministry ’s Bayu said that the letter would take effect on Oct.
1 and was actually just a warning that new requirements for halal
certification were going to be introduced on that date.

Bayu
received the support on Friday of Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu,
who said that the Agriculture Ministry “must act based on the
coordinating ministry’s instructions.”

The Economy Ministry is higher in the chain of command than the Agriculture Ministry.

Even
the exact number of containers involved remains in dispute. Thomas
Sembiring, chairman of the Indonesian Meat Importers Association
(Aspidi), said on Friday that there were 137 containers impounded at
the port — not 200, as previously reported.

“But another 99
containers will arrive tomorrow and they’re also likely to be
impounded,” he said on Friday. On Thursday, the Quarantine Agency
claimed that there were only 76 containers involved.

Sembiring pinned the blame for the impasse on the Agriculture Ministry.

The
New Zealand Embassy’s deputy head of mission, Chris Langley, said the
MUI had not banned meat from New Zealand slaughterhouses.

Confusion
seemed to stem from talks between New Zealand officials and the MUI
over new halal standards for New Zealand meat due to come into effect
on Oct. 1.

Category: Asia, Halal Integrity, Oceania

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