Hornbill Unleashed

November 14, 2014

Tourism players see red over non-halal food ban

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:00 AM
Tags: , , ,


The Tourism and Culture Ministry’s move to bar the serving of non-halal food at the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia (FF1M) 2014 has raised the ire of tourism players.

With this move, they suggested, the ministry should change the event name from ‘Fabulous Food 1Malaysia’ to ‘Halal Food Festival’ to portray the ‘halal only’ limitation.

Some also disagreed with the ministry’s way in handling the controversy, suggesting that two separate venues can be used to serve the halal and non-halal food.

“Malaysia Truly Asia is no more. Now it is Malaysia Truly Halal,” Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (Mita) secretary-general Leong Hooi Min told Malaysiakini when contacted today.

Surprised by the decision, Leong criticised the ministry for backsliding in promoting Malaysia to the world due to growing religious sentiments.

“Tourism should be an ‘open-minded’ industry. It should not be related to any worship or religious element.

“If you intentionally sell non-halal food outside the mosque, then it should definitely be banned. But if it is just a food festival, than it shouldn’t be so sensitive,” she said.

Yesterday, the ministry said that it will no longer serve non-halal food, following a reprimand in the latest Auditor-General’s Report.

The auditor-general had ticked off the ministry for serving the pork dish bak kut teh – a distinctively Malaysian dish – at the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia (FF1M) at Jalan Alor in Kuala Lumpur and in Taman Johor Jaya, Johor, last year.

The auditor-general also reprimanded the ministry for serving international cuisine such as the Japanese sushi and Korean kim chi at the festival.

Ministry secretary-general Ong Hong Peng said the ministry will continue to promote cuisines from difference communities, but all the dishes must be halal.

Gov’t contradicting itself

However, Leong said the ministry’s decision contradicted with its own objective of attracting more tourists to Malaysia in the wake of the MH17 and MH370 tragedies.

“Malaysians faced two serious air disasters this year alone and the number of tourist visits had decreased obviously, especially visits from China.

“Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had strongly urged the government to propose and plan more strategies to attract tourists, but now, with what has happened, it all seems contradictory,” she said.

Leong said although Malaysia is a Muslim majority country, its brand is its multiculturalism.

Thus, promoting the food of all races should not pose any problems.

She added that food festivals have always been successful programmes in tourism as these always attracts many tourists.

Therefore, the ‘halal only’ restriction will hurt the tourism business and limit promotion avenues for the industry.

“I can understand if it is other ministries, but why would you want restrict a Ministry of Tourism programme? It is unacceptable.

“We will continue to promote non-halal food to tourists despite the ministry’s decision,” Leong said.

Under pressure

Meanwhile, Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA) president Paul Paw said the ministry’s reaction showed it was clearly buckling under pressure.

Paw said that to avoid confusion, the term ‘1Malaysia’ should be removed from the festival’s name as it is clearly not reflective of all of Malaysia.

Instead, ‘1Malaysia’ should be replaced with ‘halal’, he said.

“I urge them to change the name from ‘Fabulous Food 1Malaysia’ to ‘Halal Food Festival’ to avoid any confusion among tourists.

“We understand the Ministry of Tourism is under a lot of pressure, but we hope the title can be made clear,” Paw added.



  1. FF1M should be Farty Frogger 1Malaysia = Ibrahim Ali!

    Comment by Stevie — November 15, 2014 @ 12:23 PM | Reply

  2. Malaysia has moved away from Truly Asia, to Truly Islamic.

    Comment by goo kang — November 14, 2014 @ 12:07 PM | Reply

    • Not all tourists come here for halal food!

      Comment by Ronraj — November 18, 2014 @ 5:40 PM | Reply

  3. When you’re part of the world’s fastest growing religious prison, of course you won’t serve anything but prison grub to the inmates.

    Comment by Hornbill Leashed and Gagged — November 14, 2014 @ 10:19 AM | Reply

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