KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 — Will the Department of Islamic Development of Malaysia (Jakim) ban food outlets seeking halal certification from using “mata kucing”, the Malay name for longans, MCA asked today following disapproval on the word “hot dogs”.
Disagreeing with the decision, the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition’s Chinese party said the federal Islamic authority’s decision had turned the country into an “international laughing stock” because it suggested that Malaysians “Muslims or otherwise, are unable to comprehend nor distinguish whether or not food like ‘hot dog’ and ‘Pretzel dog’ contain dog meat”.
“Will Jakim then go even further to suggest that ‘mata kucing’ cannot be consumed for it contains cats’ eyes?” MCA Youth secretary-general Datuk Leong Kim Soon said in a statement.
Jakim this week confirmed its decision to make it mandatory for food outlet operators to abort words that are linked to non-halal references on their menus, to qualify for halal certification.
A department spokesman said food items containing the word “dog” could confuse Muslims, as the animal is considered unclean by Islam.
Leong said Jakim should be more concerned about substance than form.
“In this case, or in cases of halal certification, Jakim should be more focused on the contents and ingredients of the foods and beverages than their names,” Leong added.
He also called on Jakim to reconsider and retract its decision on the issue and focus on developing Malaysia into a successful halal hub.
The issue surfaced after an executive with US pretzel chain Auntie Anne’s revealed that their application for halal certification had failed due to, among others, concerns over the “pretzel dogs” in their menu.
The incident is the latest in the growing trend of religious conservatism in Malaysia, the only country in the world that prohibits non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” and other Arabic terms.
Muslim lawmakers from both sides of the political divide have also expressed their disagreement with Jakim’s decision.
Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz panned the decision as ridiculous, saying it was made by ignoramuses while PAS MP Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz told reporters in Parliament today that food names should not be turned into an issue as the more important thing was whether it was halal or not.