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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Minister: Stop conducting raids on shops selling pig bristle brush

Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Minister Hamzah Zainudin today confirmed that he has instructed the ministry's enforcement division to stop conducting raids on shops selling pig bristle brushes.

Hamzah said he had informed the ministry's enforcement division director Roslan Mahayudin of the decision.

“I told the officers not to conduct the raids, as though this issue is a huge problem,” he said.

Asked on the reasons why the raids were being halted, Hamzah this had to do with Malaysia's multi-racial and multi-religious character.

"We must all work towards living in a harmonious society. We shouldn't play with fire," he told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today.

He added that the issue had been blown out of proportion by the media and on the internet.

While agreeing that traders had the responsibility to inform consumers of the nature of a particular product, Hamzah stressed that consumers, likewise, must also ask question if they were unsure about a certain product.

"This issue shouldn't be dividing us," he stressed.The minister pointed out how there were already laws in place concerning this.

“That’s why we see shops selling bags and shoes putting labels like ‘this is made of pig skin’,” he said.

Some traders, however, were not aware of such laws, he said.

“So we give them advocacy. That’s why I asked my enforcement officers to meet them and educate them.

“Traders who are unsure of the make of the products should ask their respective suppliers and if they are still unsure, they should just inform consumers that there has yet been confirmation whether the brushes are made from animal bristles or not,” he added.

Media rapped

Hamzah stressed he did not want to turn this into a political issue, and did not want to aggravate the situation.

The minister said he had initially stated that he wanted to give an explanation on the matter in two weeks’ time.

“I said that because I wanted to calm the situation, but instead it turned into a big issue.”

Hamzah during the press conference also advised the media to ensure that they meet relevant ministers beforehand when a particular sensitive issue crops up.

“Don’t just come out (about it) in the newspaper,” he said.

The minister reprimanded a Malay daily in particular that had played up the issue, and a Chinese daily for publishing a large picture of a pig on its front page today.

Criticising several quarters whom he believes are taking advantage of this issue, Hamzah said that some were also using the opportunity to blame the BN government.

“Let me frank, the BN government thus far has been led by a group that consists of multiracial leaders,” he said.

'Pig logo unnecessary'

Asked on Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia’s (PPIM) suggestion for a pig logo for porcine-based products, Hamzah insisted that traders should just label the products.

“This PPIM, to the extent of wanting a tail logo. What’s so difficult, (traders) should just inform consumers that the product is made from an animal or otherwise.”

Admitting that halal logos are better for halal food products, Hamzah however said it was sufficient for non-food products to use just labels.

“If the shoes are made from pig skin, we can’t write there ‘haram shoes’, right?

“We have never instructed for brushes made from animals to have the halal logo, a label is enough.”

However, Hamzah said should there be a recurrence in traders failing to place labels on pig bristle brushes, action will be taken against them.

“It's simple, in this one to two months, I just want traders to take the A4 paper and say that this is made from an animal.

“If they are sure, then do so (label the products). If they are unsure, just say that they are unsure whether it’s made from animal bristles or not,” he said.

PPIM yesterday said not only pig bristle paint brushes but all porcine-based products should have a logo of a pig to avoid confusion among Muslim consumers.

This, said its president Nadzim Johan, was because the association had been receiving complaints from Muslim consumers who had accidentally purchased such products.

KDNKK this week raided several shops and seized pig bristle paint brushes that displayed a fake halal logo.

Asked what would happen to the confiscated brushes, Hamzah said he will make an announcement on this in a fortnight.

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