KUALA LUMPUR — A consumer group yesterday demanded that the Malaysian authorities punish a mineral water bottler for using the image of a Hindu god on its labels, claiming its placement near a halal logo was insensitive.
The Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) said it was wrong for bottler Chuan Sin Sdn Bhd to use the image of Lord Murugan, a Hindu deity, on its labels as it was offensive to the country’s community. The Rakyat Post news website said the image was a promotional picture for the Visit Malaysia 2014 campaign.
“How can Chuan Sin place the picture of another god next to the halal logo? This is a very sensitive issue to the community of the country,” PPIM chief Nadzim Johan said. “We will make a police report and urge all Islamic authorities and non-government organisations to stop or hold the sale of this brand of mineral water until we can resolve this matter.”
Chuan Sin produces mineral water under the Cactus and Spritzer brands in their factory in Perak.
Mr Nazim also urged supermarkets to immediately suspend the sale of the product, while calling on Malaysia’s Islamic affairs agency, the Islamic Development Department (JAKIM), to investigate the matter. JAKIM is the body in Malaysia tasked with ensuring that products are halal, or permissible by Islamic law.
PPIM head of monitoring and financial services, Mr Sheikh Abdul Kareem, claimed that the practice violated the Trade Descriptions Act, which states that no religious symbols may be used on the label or packaging of a product. “As a mineral water manufacturer, (Chuan Sin) should be more sensitive. This action is a disgrace to the religion of the Constitution, which is Islam. We urge the Home Ministry to take action and tell them to respect that,” said Mr Sheikh Abdul.
“If (Chuan Sin) sells (the product) without using the halal logo, it won’t be a problem, but when you have both (the logo and the image of the Hindu god), it will definitely cause confusion among the community,” he added.
PPIM’s complaint yesterday was not the first time this year that concerns have been raised by groups over halal food items sold in the country. In May, Cadbury withdrew two varieties of its halal-certified chocolate snacks from sale after they were alleged by the Ministry of Health to be contaminated with pig DNA. Under Islamic law, are forbidden to consume pork and those who have touched pigs have to undergo ritual purification.
The finding sparked outrage among some Islamist groups, which called for a boycott of all Cadbury products, but it was later discredited by JAKIM after tests found no traces of pork in the chocolates.
In recent months, groups such as Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia and Isma as well as Malay rights groups such as Perkasa have come out strongly to voice their concern over what they see as lax oversight by the country’s Islamic authorities, saying Malaysia’s image as an Islamic country was at stake.
Last month, groups called for an Oktoberfest beer festival in Selangor to be cancelled, saying it was offensive and insulting to the community. A recent pet-a-dog event in the state, which attracted more than 1,000 Malaysians, also drew flak from Muslim groups and the country’s clerics, who said it was an insult to Islam, as dogs are considered unclean under the religion. Agencies