The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Centre) has questioned how former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak could plead ignorance to the existence of the meat cartel syndicate in the country.
This comes after former Deputy Agriculture Minister Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, who served during Najib’s premiership, confirmed that cartels had been operating for decades.
“How is it that Najib (could deny) any knowledge of this during his premiership?
“Why are Malaysians fed with half-truths yet again?
“It is time to call out those involved, especially agencies and government officials concerned,” it said in a statement today.
The NST front-paged a report last month about the meat cartel, which had been in operation for more than 40 years.
Senior officers from no fewer than four government agencies are believed to have been working hand-in-glove with a cartel specialising in bringing non-certified meat into Malaysia and passing it off as halal-certified products.
These senior officers, entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that halal standards are upheld, instead accepted money, and in some cases even women for sex as bribes to turn a blind eye to the cartel’s operations and ensure its activities went undetected.
Investigations by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) gathered pace with the arrests of 11 people so far in connection with the case, including five Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services Department officers, a delivery agent, and the directors and employees of two import companies.
In an online portal recently, Tajuddin revealed that ‘meat cartels’ do exist and they are mainly controlled by non-Bumiputeras.
He also said he had suggested to the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) and the Veterinary Department to hire more officers to monitor closely the halal requirements in the country and in the source countries during his time as the deputy minister.
C4 Centre said the meat cartel’s existence points to long-entrenched corruption involving several government agencies in collusion with the businesses.
It stressed that the revelations proved the government had been aware of their existence for some time; hence it questioned the government for tolerating such monopoly practices on meat supply in the country.
It said that transparency in the matter would serve to clear doubts, while serving as a means of effective monitoring of the syndicate.
“C4 Centre calls for those involved in the scandal to be called out and punished severely, and for the companies and government agencies responsible for this to be penalised.
“When it comes to a matter that so deeply affects Malaysians, not only in their religious beliefs but potentially public health, a decisive and severe response is called for,” it said. – NST