Halal slaughter protocols – strict Islamic practices—for meat from Australia which is destined for Malaysia are shot through with worker exploitation, blackmail and non-compliance, according to an Asia Sentinel investigation.
Although the meat originates on foreign soil, the slaughter protocols are supervised by accredited certifiers with Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development, known by its Malay acronym Jakim. As a result of previous Asia Sentinel reporting, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency has announced it would investigate allegations of Jakim irregularities, as has the Royal Malaysian Customs (RMC).
Mohamed Adil Rahman is pictured, partially obscured behind SICHMA chairperson Muhammet Eris on the left and Sirajuddin Suhaimee of Jakim, right
Five slaughtermen who asked to remain anonymous for fear of potential retribution recorded in-depth interviews and signed statutory declarations lodging lodge official complaints over what they described as listed extensive practices that were haram – forbidden or proscribed by Islamic law – in the slaughter of animals whose carcasses were destined for consumption by Malaysia’s 20 million-odd Muslims. These complaints are being made available to Australian authorities by individuals who contacted Asia Sentinel over the allegations.
Regaining Halal Integrity
Malaysia’s international reputation and ambition to become an influence within the international halal industry are threatened by the inward-looking and politically suspect Jakim, critics say, adding that halal certification and management are best overseen by science orientated people with a deep understanding in logistics. Jakim, the critics allege, has failed the national interest of halal integrity.
The five slaughtermen who spoke with Asia Sentinel detailed irregular or haram practices as follows. All asked to be identified with pseudonyms.
“Mustafa” said he was employed by Mohamed Adil Rahman on behalf of the Supreme Islamic Council of Halal Meat in Australia, Inc. or Sichma, as a slaughterman and later a supervisor between 2008 and 2012 at various abattoirs in New South Wales. In a recorded interview, he claimed he was instructed by Adil Rahman “to certify carcasses that are haram to halal” by removing non-halal tags and changing them to halal where carcasses continued in the halal production line.
Further, animals known as “downers” or emergency kill which were already dead and considered haram were mislabeled as halal. This included animals whose skulls were cracked open during stunning, which should also have been labelled as haram.
Mustafa said he had complained to both Adil Rahman and the late Mughtar Sadian of Sichma and was told to follow Adil Rahman’s instructions or be sacked. In addition, Mustafa alleged his wages were regularly cut to pay “donations.” He was forbidden any leave, and Was never given a formal letter of employment or contract.
“Fikri” said he was also employed by Adil Rahman for Sichma for a short period in 2014 in Gundagai, New South Wales. He confirmed Ali’s assertions about carcasses not being halal due to emergency kill but being mislabeled as halal. Fikri said he had left Sichma after three days due to his disgust over the lapses in halal procedures. Fikri was also not provided with any employment contract and was never paid for his work.
“Abdul” said he was employed by Adil Rahman for Sichma as a slaughterman from June 2017 to May 2018 at two abattoirs in New South Wales. Abdul asserts that “throughout my employment with Mohamed Adil Rahman, I noticed that they did not fully comply to the Syariah/Halal standards.” Non-Muslim slaughtermen took turns on the production line and there were no halal supervisors present at all at one abattoir. Abdul asserted that “at any point of time that the Muslim staff needed to go to the toilet, non-Muslim staff would proceed with the slaughtering process, resulting in a mix of non-halal and halal carcasses. For the same reason, I find it hard to perform my prayers as breaks were not allowed.”
Abdul alleges he was also paid less than half the wages he was promised due to mysterious donations deducted from his pay. Abdul also complained in his statutory declaration about having no leave and no compensation of medical costs under Mohamed Adil Rahman.
“Halim” was another slaughterman and supervisor employed by Mohamed Adil Rahman from May 2016 to May 2017. Halim said he rushed himself to hospital by himself to receive 10 stitches after an accident but on return he was ordered by Mohamed Adil Rahman to immediately return to the production line. Halim was eventually given until the next morning to return to work after pleading with Adil Rahman. The next morning, he said, he was still in too much pain and returned to where he was staying near the abattoir. Mohamed Adil Rahman immediately terminated Halim and forced him out of the house.
Halim says he also never received any employment contract and complains there was no documented proof of his employment. He was not entitled to medical leave or to make any medical claims. There was no notice of the required work hours per week and minimum requirement for notice of termination.
The most telling testimony came from “Raslan,” who said he was employed by Mohamed Adil Rahman as a supervisor from 2013 to 2017. Raslan asserts that “I have unknowingly been in a system that involved sham employment contracts, tax fraud, and black economy activity that was planned, committed, and masterminded by Mohamed Adil Rahman using the Supreme Islamic Council of Halal Meat Australia Inc. (Sichma) as a certifier, which I refused to be part of anymore.”
Adil Rahman, Raslan notes, is simultaneously the state supervisor for Sichma, an Abattoir Auditor and a labor supplier focusing on supplying halal slaughtermen mainly to Sichma. “Performing these three roles is in conflict with both the state laws and halal standards, and would severely compromise the integrity of the halal products.”
Raslan alleged that Adil Rahman had used his influence to remove Australia Halal Food Services (AHFS) from accreditation as suppliers to Jakim and Majilis Ugama Islam Singapora (MUIS), which plays a similar role in Singapore to Jakim in Malaysia. Mohamad Adil Rahman, he said, also worked to have the Islamic Co-ordinating Council of Victoria (ICCV) removed from Jakim accreditation as. “ICCV had disobeyed him. Three weeks later looking full of pride he told me ‘it’s’ done. I removed ICCV from the Malaysia and Singapore list.’ The following week, a notice from Malaysia and thereafter Singapore, came confirming Mohamed Adil Rahman’s statement.”
Raslan described a system in which Adil Rahman controlled all the entitlements of the halal slaughtermen including tax, superannuation, holiday pay, sick leave, hardship living allowance & etc., sharing portions of their entitlement tax, superannuation, holiday pay, sick leave of the workers was shared with Sichma bosses and other parties among others.”
“The middleman (who is also one of the slaughterman) then pays the other slaughterman. However, none of the employees received the entitlement tax, superannuation, holiday pay, sick leave as they only receive basic pay and nothing more.”
“As one of the middleman, Adil Rahman instructed me to set up a company under my name to act as a payment gateway. However, the company functioned as instructed by Adil Rahman and I have no say in it.”
“Ironically, due to his arm-twisting tactics, Adil Rahman does not have any agreement with any of the abattoirs to supply labor. However, these abattoirs pay him directly for the services of the slaughtermen.”
“It must be highlighted that, if an abattoir disagrees with such arrangements, the abattoir will lose their halal meat export license as Adil Rahman is the State Halal Supervisor and Abattoir Auditor for Sichma.”
“I was one of the supervisors and I was tasked to pay the workers’ salary. However, at the end, I realized this is a form of modern-day enslavement of the employees and decided to come forward and share this information with you today. The workers have been and still are treated very badly, underpaid.”
When any of the slaughtermen complained to the abattoirs, Raslan said, they were told that this was not the abattoir’s responsibility. When the slaughtermen complained to Sichma, they were told to speak to Adil Rahman instead and when they spoke to him, they were threatened that it could cost them their job and they would not receive their pay for the last week of working.
Finally, Raslan states that “It cannot be denied that Adil Rahman has very good links to Malaysia and Singapore and he uses this to his advantage to advance his business and theirs too.”
Sichma, through their lawyer Peter Guy of Kennedy Guy Solicitors Melbourne denied all allegations as totally false and inaccurate. Sichma has also denied that Mohamed Adil Rahman is a halal auditor, although the organization declined to clarify his role within the organization. Sichma has also threatened legal action over a November 7 Asia Sentinel article describing irregularities. Asia Sentinel stands by its reporting.
Sichma has also threatened legal action for reporting the contents of a complaint made by Russell Summer of the Australian law firm Conlan Cummings Lawyers to the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources which is responsible for halal issues in Australian abattoirs in 2017.
Sirajuddin Suhaimee, the Jakim director, supported Sichma over the allegations after he met privately with Sichma officials, saying he intended to “make SICHMA the best CB (certifying body) in Australia (see video link).”
Is Jakim Showing Favoritism?
As Asia Sentinel reported on November 7, Sirajuddin used the Oceania Halal Academy, of which Mohamed Adil Rahman is chairman on a number of halal certification training jobs in China, in preference to local Malaysian trainers. The Jakim website confirms that Oceania Halal Academy is a strategic partner with the Malaysian International Halal Academy (MIHA). This exclusivity has frustrated and angered other halal training and certification organizations in the industry, who feel they have been shut out.
Asia Sentinel also reported on the same date that the Islamic Co-ordinating Council of Victoria (ICCV) was terminated as a Jakim-approved Halal certification body by Sirajuddin, arbitrarily and outside of his authority, last September 25. However, after Asia Sentinel made ICCV’s termination public, JAKIM promised the directors that ICCV would be immediately reinstated.
No public statements were made by either Jakim or the ministers about why the ICCV was abruptly terminated by Sirajuddin and reinstated by the minister were ever made. With accusations rife about a top Jakim official favoring some parties over others, while terminating unjustly ICCV as an approved Jakim certification body, sources high within Jakim itself claim that the minister is overriding any moves to censure this person.