Wednesday, 29 January 2014

'Halal pork' Net hoax resurfaces, prompting calls for police probe

By Audrey Tan, The Straits Times, 28 Jan 2014

THE police are being urged to investigate a religiously insensitive Internet hoax that has appeared on Facebook more than six years after it first circulated via e-mail here.

The image shows a packet of grocery retailer FairPrice's Pasar Fresh Pork bearing a green halal sticker.

The supermarket chain issued a statement yesterday, calling it a "mischievous hoax that is both insensitive and done in poor taste".

A spokesman assured the public that the original packaging did not carry the halal sticker.

The halal certificate and logo, which indicates that food or drink is permitted for consumption by Muslims, is issued by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS).

It can only be carried on food and drinks that are permissible and have been prepared according to Islamic law.

Pork is considered "haram" or "forbidden" in Islam.

Said the FairPrice spokesman: "We are mindful of the serious religious implications of this matter and regard this as a wilful act of mischief."

A police report was lodged when the image of the tampered packaging was first circulated via an e-mail hoax back in 2007. Since then, "multiple" police reports have been lodged, said a FairPrice spokesman.

The spokesman added that the supermarket chain "has yet to lodge" a police report with regard to the latest case.

Under Section 88A of the Administration of Muslim Law Act, anyone found guilty of abusing the MUIS halal certificate and logo is liable to a fine of up to $10,000, a maximum jail term of a year, or both.

MUIS said it was aware of the case and has advised the public to refer to the statement issued by FairPrice.

The retailer also posted a similar statement on its Facebook page yesterday, urging netizens "not to recirculate the image".

Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Zainal Sapari said he hopes there will be police investigation into the matter and told The Straits Times: "Whoever is recirculating the photo is irresponsible as it may cause alarm in the Muslim community, especially if they view it as a repeat incident.

"I'm glad that FairPrice has come forward to clarify that it was an image that was recirculated."

Separately, FairPrice announced yesterday that sales of halal-certified frozen chicken from Thailand have resumed since the ban on Thai chicken imports was lifted by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority in June last year.

It is the first supermarket here to resume poultry imports from Thailand in the wake of the "highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1" outbreaks from 2004 to 2008, the statement said.

Prior to the lifting of the ban, fresh chicken was imported from Malaysia and frozen raw chicken from Brazil.

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