12 November 2020
1. It has been brought to Muis’ attention that an online article has made inaccurate claims about Muis’ investigation into complaints relating to the recognition of Foreign Halal Certification Bodies (FHCB). The article also claims to cite information from various unnamed sources.
2. FHCBs are entities based overseas that certify if food products in their respective countries meet Muslim dietary requirements. As various countries have different contexts, standards and requirements compared to Singapore, Muis only recognises FHCBs that meet our required standards. This ensures that local halal food establishments and manufacturing companies have access to reliable supplies of halal ingredients for their food preparation. Muis ensures a robust process in recognising FHCBs, so that the dietary requirements of the Muslim community are not compromised.
3. On the 17th of June, Muis released a public statement that an internal investigation team, as well as an independent review panel chaired by a Muis Council member, had been established to review the allegations made by industry players and media reports against Muis’ halal certification team. The officer against whom the allegations were made has not been handling matters relating to the recognition of FHCBs while investigations were ongoing, to facilitate the investigations.
4. The independent review panel has completed its review and has since submitted its findings to the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth for further review. The outcome of the investigation will be made known in due course.
5. The recent online article carried several inaccuracies, which Muis would like to correct:
(a) As part of of the process, several parties were invited to be interviewed to assist in our investigations. The statement in the article that “witnesses say they were coerced into signing non-disclosure agreements before evidence was taken from them” paints a highly inaccurate picture. All the parties who took part in the interviews did so willingly. Parties were requested to sign a non-disclosure agreement to safeguard the confidentiality of the investigation process, and none of them objected or expressed unwillingness to do so.
(b) The online article falsely attributed remarks to the Chairman of the independent review panel. For example, the Chairman did not convey that “disturbingly the inquiry spent a lot of effort focusing on unauthorised disclosure or leakage of information from the council”. In fact, the review took a comprehensive approach to examine all the allegations that were raised, including whether the FHCBs involved were inappropriately delisted.
6. Muis notes that there continues to be social media posts speculating on the outcome of the investigation process and casting aspersions on the integrity of the process. This is irresponsible. We ask that such parties cease doing so and allow due process to take place. Muis will update on the investigation outcome, after the matter has been considered by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
7. Muis would like to reassure the community that it is fully committed to ensuring requirements for the dietary needs of the Muslim community continue to be met. We are also committed to a robust process of recognising Foreign Halal Certification Bodies to ensure continued public confidence in ingredients used by halal certified food establishments and manufacturers in Singapore.
MAJLIS UGAMA ISLAM SINGAPURA