70X, Jalan Keramat Hujung, 54000 Kuala Lumpur
Email : salam@ppim.org.my
Hotline : +6019-359 1000
Tel : +603-4257 7222 / +603-4256 6618
18 May 2022

When Asia Sentinel made the allegations about unhygienic abattoir practices, animal cruelty, and breaches in halal slaughtering protocols early last month, the claims were all quickly dismissed by all involved.

The Islamic Development Authority of Malaysia (JAKIM) quickly said that their own investigations dismissed the allegations. JAKIM claimed that their Halal Attache, based in Canberra investigated the allegations and found them to be baseless.

JAKIM’s foreign certifying body, the Supreme Islamic Council of Halal Meat Australia (SICMA) claimed the allegations were a pack of lies, and the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water, and Environment (DAWE), originally said the department takes such allegations very seriously, but later claimed to a local Malaysian newspaper Utusan Malaysia, that any Halal breaches were JAKIM’s responsibility.

Informants within the Thomas Foods International abattoir informed the writer that the practices described by Asia Sentinel were still continuing as late as 22nd April. According to these informants, no one from JAKIM or DAWE had visited the TFI Lobethal abattoir since the report was made. The only visitors were TFI senior management who were more concerned about who made the leaks than finding a solution the alleged issues.

TFI has also remained silent on the allegations that are alleged to have occurred within their plant. According to an informant to Asia Sentinel, the TFI management’s only action was to interrogate the slaughtermen from that section with the objective of uncovering the whistleblower.

Anna Somerville, the assistant secretary for export standards at DAWE has still not explained how Asia Sentinel’s report to them could get into the possession of SICHMA, leading to the interrogation of an employee at the TFI Lobethal plant, his banning from the plant, and dismissal. DAWE has not released any statement about the investigation at the TFI Lobethal plant. An offer to provide additional assistance from Asia Sentinel after further breaches of hygiene protocols where still occurring on 22nd April was met with the comment that “I am not sure that is necessary or appropriate for the department to work through you to arrange follow up”, in an email reply.

With denials made by JAKIM, and a refusal by both JAKIM and DAWE to meet with the whistleblower, concerned consumer groups organized a joint press conference which was held on 12th March. Nadzim Johan leading the Islamic Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) and Faizan Mohd Nor’s Pertubuhan Kemasyaratan Rakyat or Pekemas Malaysia chaired the meeting in Kuala Lumpur, so the whistleblower named as Abdullah, with his identity concealed, could tell his story to the public.


The press conference was watched by more than 15,000 people online, and led to hundreds of comments condemning JAKIM. Nadzin claimed that the issue has not received enough exposure within Malaysia and JAKIM must urgently undertake an investigation.

As it turns out Anna Somerville from the DAWE and Sirajuddin Suhaimee from JAKIM are well acquainted, as they are both seen at a bilateral meeting on Halal agenda in Sydney back in 2018. In a media statement to Utusan Malaysia on 27th April, DAWE stated that “For exported meat and meat products that are Halal certified, the relevant AIO has sole responsibility for the religious aspects of production. Approved Islamic Organisations must be recognised by the importing country.” The group managing director of TFI, Darren Thomas is well connected with the Australian Agricultural establishment, being an ambassador for the South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regions. Thus, there appears to be much intermingling between the actors, which requires much more transparency.

This is particularly the case where JAKIM, DAWE, and TFI refuse to answer any questions directly regarding the allegations.

Some Australian meat samples were sent to an accredited analytical laboratory for a preliminary analysis. Bacteria levels found in the analysis indicate some need for further analysis, where further samples of Australian lamb have been sent to an accredited laboratory in the Netherlands for a much more thorough formal analysis. 

The matter was brought to the attention of the Australian Higher Commissioner to Malaysia without response. An industry insider told Asia Sentinel that Australian authorities are extremely sensitive about safeguarding to meat export markets, due to China banning imports of Australian beef.

Australia’s Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) and Malaysia’s Halal Development Corporation (HDC) just signed an MOU to promote Australian and Malaysian halal partnerships, with the World Halal Conference scheduled to be held in Melbourne during September 2022, the first time it will be held outside of Malaysia.

Sources within JAKIM claim there is a power struggle going on for the top position within the organization. The newly appointed director general Hakimah Mohd Yusoff is not expected to remain in the position for too long. The current deputy director general and former head of the Halal division Sirajuddin Suhaimee is making moves for the top position, with the support from certain sections of royalty.

Based upon the evidence presented at the PPIM press conference. There are many questions left unanswered about Halal integrity and food safety. All organizations involved have refused to address these issues, discrediting the messengers rather than looking into the allegations seriously.

Asia Sentinel has been advised that PPIM and Pekemas Malaysia are having a meeting this week to decide whether to call for a consumer boycott of Australian meat in Malaysia. This is after the JAKIM director general Hakimah issued another press statement on 10th March contradicting her original statement that an investigation into the allegations concluded that no improprieties. However, in her latest press statement, Hakimah is claiming that there is now an ongoing investigation by DAWE.

Internal TFI shipping documents sighted by Asia Sentinel also indicated produce from the TFI Lobethal plant is also being shipped to Singapore. The Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) which is the halal certification authority for Singapore is also silent on the matter. Last year MUIS held a ministerial inquiry into the foreign Certification Bodies, claiming there were no inappropriate practices after the inquiry was completed. These allegations made by “Abdullah” now cast the whole MUIS inquiry into doubt.

The writer contacted JAKIM, MUIS, DAWE, and SICHMA for a comment. All have declined to do so.

Article by: Murray Hunter