PETALING JAYA: Meat cartels do exist and they are monopolised and controlled by non-Bumiputeras, says a former deputy agriculture minister.
Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, who was the deputy minister from 2013-2018, said the cartels had been operating for decades and had refused to share the billion-ringgit business with Bumiputera companies.
He said he had taken several measures in an attempt to break this monopoly so that a few overseas cartels did not supply only two to three local non-Bumiputera companies. “The monopoly allows them to control the price of the meat,” he said.
Tajuddin, who is MP for Pasir Salak and a member of Umno’s Supreme Council, said he had worked with new companies from India who had agreed to supply meat to Bumiputera companies.
“Meat cartels exist. These companies control the export market from India and Australia, and if there are new players they will undercut the price or do all sorts of things to keep the monopoly,” he told FMT.
However, he said he did not know whether meat imported by these cartels were mixed with non-halal meat as raised in the media recently.
Question mark over Jakim inspections
Tajuddin said that when he was in the ministry he had suggested to Jakim, the Islamic development department, and the Veterinary Department to hire more officers to frequently monitor the halal requirements here and in the source countries.
“It has to be monitored on a regular basis and not after long intervals. Anything can happen (if left unchecked). The halal status may be compromised,” he added.
Tajuddin said if effective monitoring processes had been in place, questions on halal certification would not have arisen.
However, Tajuddin said he did not know if his suggestions to hire more officers to monitor meat supply and opening more halal slaughterhouses were followed through after Barisan Nasional lost in the 2018 general election.
Recalling the difficulty in handling this sector, Tajuddin said local and foreign cartels were working hand-in-hand and would not allow new players in the market, adding that this made him source for new suppliers from India.
“I also pushed for a new halal certified slaughterhouse to cater for the supply. I did not have an easy time with the Veterinary Department although I was merely persuading exporters to help our local Bumiputera suppliers,” he added.
He also asked if Jakim had hired new officers to monitor the halal certification process, adding that they needed to visit the slaughterhouses overseas on a regular basis to check if they were fulfilling the requirements.
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