At Your Service
By DATUK WAN MOHAMAD SHEIKH ABDUL AZIZ
Department of Islamic Development Malaysia director-general
The word ‘halal’ is not the sole property of Muslims but has expanded internationally with trading communities embracing it.
HAVE you ever thought why non-Muslim consumers in other countries choose halal goods while Muslim consumers in Malaysia are sometimes petty about halal certification?
Malaysia is made of many races, religions and cultures and this has become an important asset in the development of the Halal Malaysia certification.
Generally, the use of the halal logo and certification system in this country is seen to be in the interest of Muslim consumers. The certification enables them to select goods without doubt of their halal status.
This aside, after 30 years of its introduction, the response has been overwhelming. The word “halal” is not only the sole property of Muslims but has now expanded into international markets.
Trading communities who are generally composed of non-Muslims are beginning to realise the importance of the halal certification.
This has broken the barriers of religious and cultural differences and has transcended the view that halal is only for Muslims.
Similar changes have taken place among industries throughout the world, even in Asia, which have made the halal logo a marketing tool in winning the hearts of consumers.
Statistics show that Malaysian Halal Certificate holders have increased to 3,889 from 2008.
This is expected to increase further after the amendment of Trade Descriptions Act 1972, which is expected to be enforced next year.
Producers today have placed the halal logo at a higher value. This is irrespective of what race, religion or cultural background a trader is from. In fact, without it, they face difficulty in marketing their products.
Before halal identification became an important factor in world trade today, halal sensitivity had been firmly rooted in the culture of Muslim communities, particularly regarding the source of end products for daily consumption and use.
However, the use of ingredients labelling in food products in the past was not viewed as very important as compared to today.
Furthermore, knowledge and awareness of Muslim communities towards basic ingredients was not given enough attention.
Jakim, as a coordinating body of halal certification in Malaysia, has introduced the standard Halal Malaysia logo, which is intended to answer the most frequently asked questions and misconception in regards to halal certification.
This logo carries the word halal in Arabic and the “Malaysia” is written in Roman. The main objective of this logo standardisation is to abolish the use of fake certificates and any other halal logos, which are not certified by authorising bodies.
The tabling of Budget 2010 lends further to the seriousness of the Government and the honourable Prime Minister in emphasising the growth market of halal services and products.
To build Malaysia towards becoming a Halal Hub, Jakim is working closely with various agencies and ministries in upgrading the capability and services of the halal certification system and standardising its mechanism between Jakim and state Islamic authorities.
Mampu provides assistance in upgrading the effectiveness of the halal certification work process through Pemudah; the public-private taskforce formed to ensure ease when conducting business dealings in Malaysia.
In the 10th Malaysia Plan, RM27.5mil has been allocated to set up a Halal Hub Institute in Bandar Enstek. This institute will be equipped with laboratories and R&D facilities and is expected to begin operations in 2014.
With the setting up of this institute, Jakim can be the focus for local and foreign communities in halal certification in the region.
Malaysia is renowned throughout the world as the first country to develop a comprehensive halal standard in the year 2000.
The Department of Standards Malaysia has published a few halal standards.
Jakim is working with the Health Ministry, MDTCC, Halal Industry Development Corporation, International Trade and Industry Ministry, Veterinary Department, Agriculture Department, universities, consumer bodies and industry sectors in upgrading the standard development for halal certification.
The Government has mandated that imported meat and meat based products shall be halal. In ensuring these rules are safeguarded, Jakim plays an important role in determining the halal status of these products.
With the Veterinary Department, Jakim will inspect abattoirs and processing plants in the exporting countries in order to certify that they meet our halal standards.
Jakim also recognises foreign halal certification bodies to ensure the halal status of imported products, including raw materials and additives.
Today, we have recognised 51 halal certification bodies from 25 nations. In fact, in 2010 alone, Jakim has received 13 new applications from foreign certification bodies.
The use of the halal logo has changed rapidly. It has become a necessity for producers in today’s consumer-driven market.
Through the halal industry, the Government has succeeded in opening competitive business opportunities between producers so that goods will be of higher quality and acceptable without doubt.
A healthier business climate successfully pioneered in local markets is gradually expanding to international markets.
The recent launch of the E-Halal Track and Trace RFID in Guangzhou, China on Nov 17 is expected to provide huge benefits to the country, especially in promoting Halal Malaysia in China; a market which has vast potential in further elevating Halal Malaysia’s credibility worldwide.
This programme will also be a breakthrough between the two countries in order to realise Malaysia as a Global Halal Hub.
We cannot separate halal from its source and origin. Only consumers who exercise their rights will choose halal product and services, which are assured from the aspects of safety and cleanliness, in line with the motto “Halal Malaysia, the Choice of Assurance”.