Bakery’s memo banning X’mas greetings on cakes shows extent of JAKIM’s influence

AN internal memo by Berry’s Cake House strictly banning Christmas greetings on its cakes has gone viral with accusations of religious bigotry by the outlet.

But the bakery’s operations manager – Daniel Teoh – has defended the outlet’s policy stating that it is merely adhering to JAKIM’s (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia) regulations on halal certification.

The memo addressed to bakery staff instructed them to not entertain any customer request for Christmas greetings on cakes. Instead, customers will have an option of a “Seasons Greetings” cake topper.

“As we are holding the halal certificate, we should fully support and meet all the halal rules and requirements by JAKIM,” Teoh further stated in the memo.

The issue first came to light in 2020. The then religious affairs minister Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri later clarified that Christmas greetings would not void any halal certification by JAKIM.

He said it was only wrong for cake shops to put on public display items bearing Christmas greetings. However, any request to have greetings piped on cakes ordered by customers was all right, according to him.

If this is the still the case, then Berry’s Cake House could have wrongly interpreted JAKIM regulations and that it is wrong to deny customer requests for Christmas greetings.

After all, JAKIM’s corporate communications department has most recently issued a clarification that “there is no obstacle for Malaysian Halal Verification Certificate (SPHM) holders to put any form of greeting related to a festive celebration on a cake or pastry product”.

“Therefore, all SPHM holders are advised to refer to JAKIM or JAIN/MAIN (state level Islamic department/state level Islamic religious council) if confusion arises regarding Malaysian halal certification,” noted JAKIM in response to Berry’s Cake House’s internal memo.

Has the situation deteriorated so badly that franchises such as Berry’s Cake House or any of its peers in the pastry industry are so worried that their halal certification could be revoked that they must issue blanket bans as pre-emptive moves?

It would be good for JAKIM to shed more light into the matter.

Also, the question needs to be asked regarding other festive greetings. Will a bakery lose its halal status if it displays cakes with “Gong Xi Fa Cai” or “Happy Deepavali”? – Dec 17, 2023

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