Malaysia: Laws on ‘Halal’ logo to be amended

KUALA LUMPUR: In view of the large scale abuse of the ‘halal’ logo by unscrupulous businesses and the absence of regulations to prevent such abuse, laws are being amended to punish the culprits.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Senator Datuk Dr Mashitah Ibrahim, told Parliament today that presently, action cannot be taken against companies or individuals who violated the halal logo usage.

“Because of the growing demand for halal products, many companies and individuals are using halal logos unauthorised by Department of Islamic Development (Jakim). However, since Jakim has no enforcement power, the Trade Description Act 1972 under the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry is being amended to haul to court those who abuse the halal logo.

“With the amendments, ministry officials will be empowered under the law to act against individuals or companies using imitation halal logos.”

Once the Trade Description Act is amended, Jakim officers will be seconded to the ministry so they can determine if there is an abuse of the halal logo.

Mashitah, replying to Taib Azamudden Md Taib (Pas–Baling), also said that since the halal certification was moved back to Jakim, Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) has no more authority to issue such certificates.

HDC is a government-linked company wholly owned by the Ministry of Finance incorporated and tasked to coordinate the overall development of the halal industry in Malaysia.

On March 18, The Malay Mail front-paged a report that fraudsters, who made millions in a computer-vendor scam several years ago, were cashing in on the thriving halal products and services business.

The computer-vendor scam group re-surfaced two years ago as the government has been promoting the country as a global halal hub. The group had remained on the sidelines since the scam was exposed in 2003.

The Paper That Cares learnt that at least two individuals were cheated by the fraudsters who are known to drive luxury cars with double-digit registration plates. Most of the cars, including a Ferrari, are registered under a company based in Selangor and to a woman from Perak.

It is not known how many have been conned or the losses involved as no police reports have been lodged so far. It is believed the victims were afraid to face public embarrassment if they reported to the police that they fell for the scam.