On the Issue of Porcine Substance Found in Products by Co-President Gan Ping Sieu
Thursday, February 09, 2017
The discovery of porcine substance in paint brushes should be treated solely as a trade description issue and should not be used to whip up racial-religious sentiments. Proper labeling of products and food items that may contain substance forbidden by some religions can help allay concerns from their devotees. This should be extended to all major religions here, such as Islam, which forbids its devotees from consuming pork and Hinduism, which forbids the consumption of beef.

In this respect, the relevant agencies like the Domestic Trade Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry should regulate the practice in a transparent manner. The labeling process can be done at source, such as by manufacturers, importers or wholesalers. This is not unlike the "no meat" labels found in vegetarian food items or "no animal testing" labels found in some pharmaceutical products.

Any statutory regulations and orders should be clearly conveyed to traders. Advice and warnings ought to be given before punitive measures are taken. Given the sensitivities surrounding this, high-profile enforcement would not be helpful.

Many owners of the outlets selling the brushes which were raided recently had no idea that their products contain porcine substance as they had been selling them for years. There may also be instances where the traders may not be aware that the brushes are purchased by consumers for food preparation purpose.

The high-profile treatment accorded to the raids had only served to heighten anxiety in a society already tearing at the seams by radicals. The authorities should consider dispensing with punitive measures against these traders, if it could be established that the shopkeepers did not sell the products out of malice or greed.

In a plural society like ours, enforcement on such sensitive matters need to be done judiciously and without overt media publicity. In this case, there is no need to heighten anxiety among Muslims, nor fuel anger among traders.

When such emotions run high, the society becomes a fertile ground for radicals to harvest discontent for their selfish, narrow agendas. This is the last thing we need at a time when radicals are already undermining our national unity.

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