KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 ― The Negri Sembilan Islamic Religious Affairs Department (JHEAINS) has powers under the law to investigate Ninja Joe over an allegedly confusing name for the latter’s pork burger, its senior officer has said.
The officer, who declined to be named, confirmed that JHEAINS had earlier this week inspected a Ninja Joe outlet in the state following public complaints on the “P. Ramly” burger being confusing, saying that the visit was done even without the presence of the officers from the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry (KPDNKK).
“No, (not with KPDNKK) because the Islamic department’s officers have been given the powers as Assistant Controllers of Trade Descriptions,” the senior officer of JHEAINS’ halal management division told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday.
The officer said JHEAINS’ officers holding the position of Assistant Controllers of Trade Descriptions have the “same powers” as KPDNKK officers and can enforce trade description laws ― which are under KPDNKK’s purview.
“Because halal is part of Trade Descriptions Act 2011, Jakim and the state Islamic councils are the competent authority to certify halal, so based on that, KPDNKK will appoint Jakim and the state Islamic councils’ officers as Assistant Controllers of Trade Descriptions so they can carry out enforcement duties related to halal,” the officer added.
Jakim is the acronym for federal religious body Malaysian Islamic Development Department.
The officer did not specify the provision under which JHEAINS officers could be appointed to such positions, but the Trade Descriptions Act 2011’s Section 3 states that the minister may appoint a Controller, Deputy Controller and Assistant Controllers “among public officers”.
The officer said JHEAINS’ visit to the Ninja Joe outlet was merely an “inspection for clarification and verification” that was done professionally to enforce the Trade Descriptions Act 2011, declining to disclose whether any seizure of evidence was made due to the ongoing matter.
When asked about the enforcement action on Ninja Joe as a non-Muslim owned business, the officer clarified that it was unrelated to the religious status of the operator.
“Even those with halal certification, many of them are non-Muslim; this is not an issue of Muslim or non-Muslim, it is an issue of halal or non-halal,” the officer said.
The officer said that JHEAINS could still probe Ninja Joe despite the latter not claiming to be selling products that are halal, explaining that the ‘halal’ term in the Trade Descriptions (Definition of Halal) Order 2011 extends to phrases that are confusing.
“It doesn’t hold a halal certificate and it did not claim its product as halal, there are no such issues; the issue is just the use of a confusing name, so when it is confusing, we carry out inspections to see if the matter really happened,” the officer said, referring to Ninja Joe.
The officer cited the Trade Descriptions Act as the law which JHEAINS officer was investigating Ninja Joe under, specifically citing the Act’s subsidiary regulation of Trade Descriptions (Definition of Halal) Order 2011.
While the officer did not specify the provision in the 2011 order, its Section 3 makes it an offence to breach a long list of conditions for foods or goods to be either described as halal or described in any other expression to show that they can be consumed or used by Muslims.
The officer said JHEAINS will be sending its investigation findings to both KPDNKK and Jakim, and may continue taking enforcement action if there are more complaints against Ninja Joe or if new information surfaces.
When contacted, Jakim’s Halal Hub division director Dr Sirajuddin Suhaimee said the “P. Ramly” burger issue falls under KPDNKK’s jurisdiction.
“Because it is under the Trade Descriptions Act, it is not under the regulation of Jakim,” he told Malay Mail Online.
He said Jakim is merely the halal certification body, and is not carrying out its own investigation or coordinating investigations by Islamic departments from other states on Ninja Joe.
While Jakim and state Islamic departments’ officials can be appointed by KPDNKK to assist the ministry, the state Islamic departments that are probing Ninja Joe will be sending all their findings to KPDNKK, he said.
Malay Mail Online has contacted Ninja Joe but has yet to receive a response.
Despite Ninja Joe’s posters on the “P. Ramly” burger clearly stating that it contained pork, several Muslim consumers and the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia were earlier this week reported complaining about the name’s alleged confusing and disrespectful nature.
Ninja Joe yesterday published an apology on its official Facebook page, reiterating that it has taken down all posters advertising the “P. Ramly” burger and will be renaming it.
The burger chain previously told Malay Mail Online that the “P” in the “P. Ramly” burger launched on Hari Merdeka stands for pork, while the word “Ramly” was aimed at paying homage to the iconic Malaysian brand “Ramly Burger” and was unrelated to the late Malaysian artiste Tan Sri P. Ramlee.