By Muheed Jeeran
Freedom of Choice is a principle of Human Rights and you have no rights to force a consumer which is a gross violation under the Consumer Rights Act. Well you might think what the above statement has to do with ACJU rather it is an issue to do with a business entity and it’s attitude.
A consumer is the main and prime stake holder of a Business and keeping the consumer happy is the major business strategy of a company. But in order to provide that satisfaction businesses needs it’s own freedom to prepare business strategy. Normally every businesses main headache is the state as they always put so many red tapes which many businesses do not like to implement. However the red tapes from state is to safeguard the rights of Consumers.
Some years ago, under the observation of ACJU and later under Halal Accreditation Council (Guarantee) Limited, businesses were asked to manufacture products with Halal standards. If they don’t produce then there was a clear threat that the Muslims will boycott their products. Obviously there are at least 20% purchasing power from the 10% population of Sri Lanka Muslims. It’s a common sense for any business entity to keep it’s customer base for their business survival.
ACJU was never trying to realize that we are helping the Muslim Community to have their freedom on choosing halal food but on the other hand we are forcing other community to buy halal products as they have no choice in their purchases. This is a pathetic procedure due to lack of understanding by ACJU on issuing halal certificate. Halal process should be a choice to any consumers rather should not become a force which we are blatantly violating the rights of consumers.
Consider the recent changes in the beverage drink comes with 3 different colour code that insisting the level of sugar in the drink bottle. Here they made the choice for consumers for various medical reasons but Why ACJU didn’t impose that choice to manufactures rather forced them to produce entire product under halal certification procedure?. This is a modern day consumer slavery in the name of religion without a doubt. Halal Food is part of a religious requirements for Muslims like the Kosher for Jews people. Businesses don’t think into religious requirements rather anything threatens their business requirements and they do anything to save that. It’s a very tiny group of nationalist Sinhalese raised this issue of objecting to Halal products and Majority of Sinhalese were silent. Did our ACJU approached the moderate Sinhalese to discuss about their view on this issue? When a fruit kept on a religious observation ( Poojava) on another faith some are from other faiths reluctant to eat. Therefore how come you forced the halal product in other faith during any religious observation ?
I can remember 15 years ago how the British Muslim Council acted which is the umbrella body of Muslim Organizations in Britain who monitors and observes halal products in UK. When I was walking inside the super market I can observe the chicken with two different display such as one for Halal and other for non halal by the same company.
I hear there is an extra product cost for Halal process monitoring and observation . I don’t know if I am right about this information but if that true it’s not right to.charge the extra cost for people who have no reason to buy halal product. I would say the Halal certificate fee too is Haram for ACJU to collect from businesses if their observation is becoming a force to other communities.
Halal product should become a choice to other communities rather not a force. Therefore ACJU could have asked the business to produce the halal products to level of the purchasing power of the Muslim Community rather not for whole production of the business. Also Halal product price could have extra cost and non halal product to have the normal price. On the procedure we can see the fairness rather not to behave in an unethical and unprofessional way.
In 2013 ACJU Stated that the Halal Certification is no more under their observation and the responsibility moved Halal Certification Council. Well I would say ACJU must have a link and they must build a link. Whoever start they have the responsibility.
I would say that the ignorance of understanding proper mechanism by the ACJU is also part of current tense situation between communities by knowing or not knowing. It’s time for ACJU to revisit and discuss with all the stake holders including groups who are against this halal subject to build a common strategy on Halal Products. Halal product is a choice and it’s a rights of consumer which no one has the right to remove but the same time it’s not become a force to non halal consumer.
International Human Rights Activist
International Political Lobbyist and Strategist