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The Cadbury-Babi Fiasco.

‘BABI’ means ‘a pig’ in Bahasa Melayu. As Muslims, the Malays are forbidden from eating babi, for two reasons:

1. There are no other animal filthier than a pig. A pig does not control its diet. It consumes everything and anything in its way. By contrast, a good Muslim has to be selective in chosing his/her food intake, for ‘we are what we eat.’

2. It is stated in the Quran that during biblical era, the Jews met the wrath of God. Some were turned to apes (when the Jews defied God’s commandmnt not to work on Saturday, an event known as ‘Sabbath’), while others into pigs. Thus, eating pig, would be just as insanely as eating a human flesh.

So filthy the bovines are, that Islam demands that any physical contact will require to be thoroughly cleaned seven times with water mixed with earth. Including the pots and pants, the glasses, the cutlery, etc. As a consequence, an average Muslim do not come in contact with a pig. An orthodox Muslim wouldn’t even look at a pig, for the thought of its sloppyness and watery nose alone, send goose bumps on one’s spine.

Thus, when, on 23rd May 2014, Malaysian Muslims were confronted with a shocking news that Cadbury chocolates (which are available at almost all sundry shops in the country) are tainted with pig DNA, all hell broke lose.

Unlike normal days, when Malay Muslims accepts bad news as part of ‘takdir’ (God’s will); this time around, many couldn’t stop from bombarding facebook accounts with vulgar languages. Particularly, in Sinar Harian, a daily private newspaper, which are known to be fairer in reporting. (These type of comments would not have seen the light of the day, in any of the party-owned dailies.)

What’s worst was the fact that the Cadbury chocolates come with a HALAL certification by JAKIM, a national body entrusted to manage the Muslim community needs, so as to be compliance with the Shariah.

The Muslim Malays are truly outraged. Worst than usual. It is possible that the gradual increase in cost of living are finally creeping in everyone’s lifelihood. Just like a volcano, while it awaits for a final, major ‘showdown’; sporadic public’s anger are displayed, intermittently.

Nonetheless, the Cadbury-Babi fiasco brings about a far bigger implication to the Muslim community. For the first time, in more than half of a century, the Muslim Malays finally come to term that JAKIM and UMNO do not have their interests at heart: UMNO is only interested in ventures that brings in money to its coffers, whereas, JAKIM has dedicated its efforts in the HALAL registration process, which also brings in more money.

Realtime efforts to inspect, find and regulate that all food manufacturers must conform to the community’s needs were neglected. Whereas, the Muslim community are also put in the dark as to the forbidden products to be consumed.

When a product is certified as non-compliance to the Halal certification, food manufacturers were cordially requested to place a sticker on the HALAL logo, if it is already embeded on its product packaging. In another word, even JAKIM are in cohort with the manufacturers. Protecting the manufacturers’ interests than the community.

Upon public outroar, how does JAKIM plans to remedy this fiasco? Thus far, JAKIM has announced to pull back HALAL certification for two of Cadbury products, the HazelNut and Dairy Milk. But the public aren’t satisfied, they demand for more aggressive and punitive action.

Some even called for the Health Ministry’s resignation.

The truth to the matter is, the Malaysian Consumer Law, like most other laws in the country, are outdated and in need of reenactment. However, the elected policy-makers aren’t interested in changing the law to the better. They are more consumed to spending their time officiating functions, going for study tours and even in pursuing their education. Anything but amending the outdated laws.

And the source of such poor state of governance is the highly irregular, purely-partisan Election Commision’s decision to place more election weightage on the poor, less-educated, minority rural folks; in contrast to the richer, more-educated majority urban folks. Thus, the uneducated pick one of their own to run the country (to the ground, if need be). And until a major restructuring is conducted, there is absolutely nothing that the majority can do about it.

Then again, two questions remain:

1) Will this Cadbury-Babi issue quietly die down through time, via formation of committees and a series of empty promises, as always?

2) If the majority urban folks are truly ‘educated’, why then do they accept the status quo, as it is currently is? Are the rich, urban and educated majority THAT helpless? Ponder that for a moment.

-DM

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