Halal Certification: Getting Approvals is such a Hassle

I REFER to the comments on halal certification for food outlets by
S.M. Mohamed Idris of the Consumers Association of Penang (”Make it
mandatory for hotels”– NST, June 18). I would like to clarify certain
issues related to halal certification for hotels raised in the letter.

We often read reports that say, for example, that “Only 19 hotels
have halal certificates” or “Make it mandatory for hotels” when, in
fact, there is no halal certification for hotels or restaurants at

It is for hotel kitchens to apply for the certification, previously
with the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia and now the Halal
Industry Development Corporation (HDC), when catering halal food at a
particular restaurant or food outlet in a hotel.

The Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners (Maho), the Malaysian
Association of Hotels and the Malaysia Budget Hotels Association have
made great efforts to encourage member hotels to apply for halal
certification for hotel kitchens to provide halal food at designated

The hotel sector supports the halal-certification exercise since
hotels will be able to benefit from the patronage of Muslim guests as
well as the government. Halal certification is a prerequisite
stipulated by the Finance Ministry for hotels hoping to attract
government patronage.

Secondly, some hotels are accused of not applying for halal
certificates when, in fact, the problem is the administrative delays,
of up to one year, imposed by the HDC on applications.

Some of the procedures and requirements are so cumbersome that some
hotels give up on their applications. This issue has been made known to
the International Trade and Industry Ministry and Tourism Ministry.

Thirdly, Maho feels HDC should clear up administrative issues on
processing applications, especially when they involve state religious
authorities, so it can expedite these applications.

Finally, why halal certificates only for hotels? Why not for all food outlets and premises, too?

SHAHARUDDIN M. SAAID, Executive director, Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners