I wish to refer to the letter from the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Religious Affairs (BB Nov 28, 2012) inviting me to a meeting with senior officers of HFCS of the ministry "to clarify any doubt and misunderstanding", especially on the use of Halal Meat Act Cap 183, and Halal Certificate and Label Order 2005. Whilst thanking the PRO for the invitation, I must decline the offer on the ground that it was not me who has "doubts or misunderstanding" over the issues, especially since I did not raise the matter about the two legislations in my article (MIB: Survival of a Nation, BB Nov 3, 2012).
In fact I have made similar comments about "halalness" of food in an earlier article "Slow boat to Halal certification" (BB Sept 24, 2011). There was no comment from the HFCS then. Was it because the HFCS was overjoyed about my praising about the establishment of a dedicated Halal Testing Laboratory? My opening lines in that article (SBHC) were: "In the aftermath of the Golden Butter episode and the public outcries over the seemingly wavering way the issue was handled by the authorities, the one bright spot that emerged was the mulling by the relevant authority to set up a dedicated Halal Testing Laboratory."
So what is the answer to the question in my latest article "Whatever happened to the plan to build a dedicated Halal Testing Laboratory soon after the Golden Churn Episode around September 2011?" So why can't the HFCS reply to such a simple question? Is the answer so secret that needs me to attend a meeting?
So how does the HFCS verify the food is Halal if one applies for a Halal certificate under the provisions of Halal Certificate and Label Order 2005? I presume with the help of other establishments that have such labs, whether inside or outside the country. If the HFCS can do that way, then why not test the marshmallow on the shelf of the supermarket, the question which started the debate? If the HFCS had done that and informed the result, then members of the public, including myself, would have been ever so grateful. The question is, how sure are we of the result? I raised this point in my previous article "in the world of business there is something called competition and there is the likelihood of competitors trying to outdo each other".
We take pride that Brunei Darussalam is an Islamic country and a MIB. But not having a dedicated Halal Testing Laboratory is unthinkable! Of course it is not cheap.
But if we have faith in Allah, Allah will help us for doing something in His Cause.
I like to think that my contributions, to HFCS in particular and the nation in general, are through my writings. But if I am wrong, please tell me.