PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) has been urged not to overstep its boundaries by extending the halal certification to premises instead of just the food.
Following McDonald’s Malaysia’s recent announcement that only halal-certified cakes are allowed into its premises, Centre for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) co-president Gan Ping Sieu said there should be no restrictions on diners bringing in non-halal food into halal eateries.
He said Jakim’s halal-certification only applies to the food served at F&B outlets and not the premise itself.
“While eateries have the right to ban patrons from bringing in outside food, the decision should be based on commercial considerations and not whether the food is halal-certified or not.
“In this respect, Jakim should not overstep its boundary by accrediting ‘premises’ instead of ‘food’,” Gan, a former deputy minister, said in a statement on Friday.
He said McDonald’s decision on allowing only halal birthday cakes into its premises in order to preserve its halal-certified status, would open the floodgates for more areas, such as public transportation and schools, to be classified along halal and non-halal lines.
“This will only segregate the people along religious lines, especially at a time when there is a need to enhance unity in the face of rising extremism,” Gan said.
Cenbet also expressed concern that the halal issue had become a divisive national discourse in the last few months, after a similar outcry over Auntie Anne’s having to replace its ‘pretzel dog’ with a different name in order to obtain halal certification.
“It is time for those in power to step up to the plate and display political will and not fall into the temptation of political pandering at the expense of dividing the people further,” Gan added.
On Thursday, McDonald’s Malaysia issued a statement saying that only halal-certified cakes would be allowed at its premises nationwide in keeping with the requirements of its halal status granted by Jakim.
The popular fast-food chain said that it had made an exception to the long-standing ‘no outside food policy’ in the case of birthday cakes brought by patrons, but added that the cakes must be halal-certified.