Does Ngeh Koo Ham Respect Islam

Just days ago, Ngeh Koo Ham, Perak DAP chairman had humiliated the Muslims by asking if the Muslims (are) wasting too much time and energy on the protests against the disgraceful  film, ‘Innocence of Muslims’ in respond to UMNO Youth YB Khairy Jamaluddin’s call for a peaceful protest over the film in Kuala Lumpur. The film which was directed by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (or his pseudonym Sam Bacile) insults the Prophet Muhammad, portraying him as a womanizer, child abuser and a fool, and Islam as a whole.

As you may have recalled, not only did he make such an insulting statement but when first criticized, he refused to apologise saying that, “There is no doubt that I condemn the video but my tweet was a question and not a statement as some have claimed, belittled Islam.”

If the statement isn’t belittling, all that I can say is that it certainly humiliates. The statement had obviously portrayed the Malaysian Muslims to be ‘over-sensitive’ over the film by holding out peaceful protests. But if protests are simply a waste of time, why are the opposition parties so obsessed with the ‘Bersih’ and other demonstrations?

On the 26th of September 2012, Ngeh once again insulted the Muslims by tweeting ‘Pertama kali saya dengar minum kopi mesti ada label halal. Manusia jgn tambah tambah syarat,membebankan. Tuhan membebaskan.’ (This is the first time I’ve heard that coffee needs a halal label. Humans shouldn’t make up more rules, it’s burdening. God liberates) when the vice chairman of the Unit Pidato Pemuda BN asked him why does his white coffee comes without halal certification. Not just that, when the person corrected him, saying that coffee too needs to be certificated as halal, Ngeh retorted by tweeting, “Tuhan tak kata bagitu. Lain negara tak ada sijil halal bagaimana ? Minum kopi haram ?” (God did not say so. How is it for countries without halal certifications? Would drinking coffee be haram?)”

Ngeh chose to ignore the fact given by Armand Azha PJU that the Old Town White Coffee they were referring to also serves food apart from coffee. Ngeh may spin the story but the Quran had clearly stated that Muslims should only eat foods which are ‘halal’. The ‘halal certificate’ acts as a guarantee for the Muslims to consume food which have been examined to be free of any haram substances, as I had mentioned in my previous post ‘Halal Labeling’. When a product had not been proven as ‘halal’ through the certificate issued by a trusted body, there is a possibility that the food may contain a certain amount of non-halal substance. So, the official halal logo will assists the Muslim consumers in buying goods that are compliance to the halal criteria.

I remember that See’s Candies of California only took a few days to respond to my father’s email and they gave him a very detailed account of their chocolate making process as well as the nature of the ingredients used. See’s Candies has a batch of products which were made by only plant-based products and were manufactured separately to protect it from being contaminated by the animal-based product. And they answered the email respectfully, very much unlike what Ngeh said in his tweet despite the fact that my father is a foreigner and Muslims are only a minority in the United States. See’s Candies that produces very delicious chocolates is not owned by a Muslim but although being unlike the DAP leaders who need the votes from the Malaysian Muslims, See’s Candies still care to respect the rights of its Muslim customers.

It is funny to think of how a leader like Ngeh, who lives in a Muslim-majority country does not understand nor respect the importance of halal labelling. Not only that but Ngeh dares to challenge what is right in according to Islam. And it is even fishier when PAS had always claimed that the DAP leaders understand Islam even better than the UMNO leaders do.

I firmly believe that products and restaurants such as the Old Town White Coffee must be avoided by Muslims for three reasons, one is that we have no confirmation on the halal status, secondly is that we as Muslims we need to fight for our rights to proclaim the verification of a halal product and last is to make sure that we only support the companies (either owned by Muslim or non-Muslim) that support and understand our needs and requirements as a Muslim consumer. We should support companies such as Carrefour – who even employs an ustaz or a religious officer for the purpose of controlling the verification of their halal products even for imported goods even despite the fact that the company is not owned by a Muslim. It is our duty to make sure that the foods and drinks that we consume will be good for us.


Is Halal Food Too Unbearable For The PKR’s Non-Muslim Members?

A few days ago a poster advertising a ‘Jamuan Makan Malam bersama Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim’ caused an uproar among Muslim bloggers and blog readers alike. According to the poster, you have the choice to pick between halal and non-halal food at the event. Such an act is unheard of in Malaysia, especially not from any political parties in the course of ‘selling tables’ when it also involves their Muslims supporters.

In the first place, why would there be the need to serve non-halal food during a PKR dinner when there will be Muslims attending the function? Is this one of PKR’s ways to promote religious pluralism and Muslim liberalism as a platform towards introducing secularism in Malaysia? Of course, PAS may agree with the above statement if such an act was committed by UMNO leaders.

By the way, isn’t that against the first of the three objectives of the Common Policy Platform from the Buku Jingga?

To defend the Federal Constitution, Islam as the religion of the Federation while other religions can be practiced peacefully anywhere in the country, the special position of the Malays and the indigenous peoples anywhere including Sabah and Sarawak, and the legitimate interests of other races in accordance to Article 153.

Consuming non-halal food is against Islam and if Islam is the religion of the federation, non-halal food are not supposed to be served during such events. Yes, at the moment they are not the ruling government but do they have any respect for their Muslim members? And how about the religious obligations among their Muslim organising committee and other party leaders? If those Muslim leaders has no respect toward their Muslim brothers and sisters, is there any guarantee that they would fulfill the promises as in reference to Article 153?

Why didn’t Mapim or PAS say anything about this matter? Isn’t Mapim the one who accused Najib of being the ‘father of secularism in Malaysia’ because of the ‘K-Pop’ event? So, why didn’t they say anything now when the dinner organiser clearly humiliates Islam and shows no respect for the Muslims? Or did the, ‘RM500/table (non-halal)’ just appeared on the PKR poster out of nowhere just like how the K-pop dancers appeared on stage at the ‘Bertam Nite’ dinner?

Again, is it a must to serve ‘non-halal’ food at such function? And what is the real status of the claimed to be ‘halal food’ that would be served? If the ‘halal food’ is to be prepared by the same restaurant or caterer that also cooks pork in the same kitchen, will the food be really halal? Restaurants or caterers that also offer pork in their menu are not eligible to request for the ‘halal’ status from JAKIM as pork is a ‘najis mughallazah’.

How could the PKR Muslim leaders agree to the idea of selling ‘non-halal’ tables? Don’t they know that it is ‘haram’ to do so; or is ‘haram’ only applies to UMNO and BN?  Or do the Pakatan Rakyat’s non-Muslim leaders and members cannot eat ‘halal food’ hence ‘non-halal’ food must be served for them?

I am very sad and sorry for the Muslims who would be buying tables or attending the event. And as for the Pakatan Rakyat leaders, if they can do all these now, it would come as no surprise if they would dare to take worse actions against the Muslim Rights if they were to be able to ‘tawan Putrajaya’. May Allah help all of us and protect our beloved Malaysia from being ruined by those who are hungry for power and don’t really care about us, the majority peaceful loving Malaysian citizen.

Eating Out – Chinese Food

Pak Ya’s Corner is a small HALAL Chinese food restaurant. The restaurant is very simple yet the service is very good. And the food is very, very delicious!

We have tried most of their various noodles, soups and rice sets. I love their Kong Po Chicken Rice which is a rice set consisting of a plate of plain rice served with chicken cooked in a tasty black sauce. I think their Kong Po Chicken Rice is simply delicious.

Their dim sums are worth trying too. They are almost as good as those served at some more expensive restaurants. The other day mum ordered some for her dinner while we ordered other dishes from the menu. It ended up with mum having to reorder her dim sums because we almost finished them up while mum was helping my little brother Ahmad Ali to finish his food!

We also love their tasty tofu soup. Tom yam is also on the menu but we haven’t  try it for my parents are fussy about tom yams – they love those really authentic tom yams.

Pak Ya’s Corner is owned by Pak Ya; who is also their chief cook. Pak Ya is a very friendly and wonderful Chinese Muslim. Located in Kampung Pandan, Pak Ya’s Corner is open daily from 3 pm to 1 am; and closed every other Wednesday. So far, the food are always tasty and we always enjoy eating there.

For more information (including map, address and phone number) of Pak Ya’s Corner, please refer to this post: Masakan Cina Yang Halal (Karim’s Blog)

Halal labeling

Muslims should make sure that they only consume halal food. In Food Facts, I had voiced out my concern regarding the free use of illegal halal labels on food products in Malaysia. The worst is, some of those products are actually questionable in their halal status.

Living in a multiracial country, Muslim consumers must be knowledgeable and well informed on this matter. Since the halal labeling is considered only as a ‘ticket’ for a big and profitable business by some, consumers must be smart as not to fall in their ‘traps’. The government and the islamic authorities must be more serious in handling this matter for halal food is actually a basic need for Muslim.

I guess honesty and responsibility are the keys in solving this problem. If those in halal food business are honest and responsible, we won’t be facing all these problems at all. But since some people are driven only by making money, we as the consumers have to fight for our rights.

I’m happy to say that not everybody are greedy, dishonest and irresponsible. There are people who took pride in being honest even though they are non-muslim. See’s Candies of California (whose candies and chocolates are truly delicious) only took a couple of days to respond to dad’s e-mail regarding the (very) detail of their chocolate making process and the nature the ingredients used. And an owner of a slaughter house in Australia  fired one of his Muslim staff after the guy was caught drunk on his night off. The reason given was – since the company slaughter halal meat, a person who do not follow the true teachings of Islam is no good for the job.

If only everybody are honest and responsible the world will be a better place for all of us; regardless our religions. But since cheating and taking advantages of others are the ways of lives for those who only value power and money – life is hard. Is it really important to have the halal label on food product? I guess the labei is important for Muslim as well as other labeling on food product; as long as halal label means the food is halal for Muslims.

Food Facts

I always take for granted that all the halal signs used in Malaysia are legal until the Islamic authorities highlighted this issue on TV. Only then, we really take our time to read the signs so that we won’t be cheated by fake halal signs.

So it seems that we have to be really careful in choosing what to eat even in Malaysia and never take things for granted. Remember the raid on a mee hoon and laksa (mee hoon [or bihun] and laksa are two types of Malaysian noodles) factory that was shown on TV? I never thought that mee hoon and laksa (that was made mainly from rice flour) can be non halal; but I was wrong. We do not only take into account of the ingredients to make sure whether the food is halal and toyyibah but also at the surrounding area and how the food is processed.

Mum showed me a type of vinegar that was commonly used in Kuala Terengganu at one time (in fact not only in Terengganu but also in other states in Malaysia) that actually contains rice wine. And the vinegar is still widely sold in KL stores in their vinegar section. And so are certain sauce, ketchup, chocolate, candy, cake and others that contains alcohol, or flavoured with liquor.

It is nice to see that Carrefour has taken the step to label foods containing alchohol but that is not the end of the problem. We still have to be sure of the halal status for food containing animal extract and of animal products such as capsule, ice-creams, cheese, marshmallows, chocolates, candy and a lot more. And as highlighted in TV about the cases of smuggled chicken and meat from other countries, we have to be more careful as we have no idea of where those smuggled items were sent to.

Then comes the issue of toyyibah – hygiene in storing and preparing food, the issue of over using pesticides, preservatives, colourings and other chemicals that makes food not safe to be consumed. There was a study showing that some fruits and vegetables were contaminated by over using the pesticides and other chemicals. And so are the uses of dangerous artificial food colouring and flavouring to make food looks good and appetising.

Next, we have to avoid too much salt, sugar and trans fat in our food. Since a lot of food in our market contains trans fat, grocery shopping is becoming more and more complicated. When I read that California is going to ban the use of trans fat in food shortly; I wish Malaysia can do the same for I’m tired of reading the food labels written in letters that were much too small for reading.

So, what can be done to ensure healthy eating when even fresh fruits and vegetables are not that safe to be eaten? We should turn to organic farming and since the organic vegetables are very expensive, we should plant our own vegetables. And that was what we did since last year. We may not be able to plant all the vegetables that we need but at least most of the green lefty vegetables (and some ulam/local salad) come fresh from our own garden.

[The potted bayam (spinach) and also kangkung (back)]

[The overcrowded sawi]

‘We buy more tube vegetables and beans; and as best as we could, we avoid buying agricultural products from China. The problem is, in most supermarkets and markets, traders do not label the country of origin for fruits and vegetables except for some like carrots and celery that come in their original packaging or certain fruits like apples, pears and oranges that have trademark stickers on them.

My grandma said that in the old days things were simpler when one just had to go out of their house to pick most of their vegetables and salads. Especially in Terengganu when we are blessed with lots of fresh fish; a meal of ikang singgang, ikang panggang, budu and lots of fresh organic ulang (Terengganu salad) is low in fat, nutritious and free of trans fat, preservatives, artificial colourings and pesticides. And so is our khepok leko ( a fish based food from Terengganu) especially khepok leko rebuh (the boiled version). Even the fried khepok only contains oil but no trans fat; so we have to go back to our traditional home cooked food for healthier eating. But since the Terengganu kue (traditional cakes) are sweet, please remember to cut down the amount of sugar in them.