A halal policy will help guide the country towards achieving the desired outcomes in the halal industry
The University of Malaya Halal Research Centre (UMHRC) conducted an online Halal Policy Symposium titled “The Relevance of the Voluntary Exercise of Malaysia’s Halal Scheme” on Dec 10, 2020. The live webinar was sponsored by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Institute of Policy Research.
The session’s keynote speech was delivered by the Vice President of Industry Development, Halal Development Corporation (HDC), Hanisofian Alias and moderated by the UM Halal Research Centre (UMHRC) director, Zalina Zakaria.
A halal certification ensures consumers are provided with food and services in line with Shariah (Maqasid al-Shariah). In Malaysia, the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) and the State Islamic Religious Departments (JAIN) led the monitoring and enforcement. The halal policy itself is under the Trade Descriptions Act (TDA) 2011.
According to UMHRC Associate Member Mohd Amri Abdullah, the law states all local and imported consumables and services that are declared halal, must obtain a halal certification issued by halal certification bodies recognised by Jakim.
“On meat-based products, all such products, including poultry imported into Malaysia must be halal-certified by a recognised Islamic organisation. These organisations would apply the requirements of inspection services at foreign abattoirs and processing plants to export meat and products of animal origin to Malaysia,” said Amri.
The policy involves plant audit and the approval process by Malaysia’s Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) and Jakim.
The journey of halal standards in Malaysia
In general, the halal journey in Malaysia started in 1965, where halal verification was first lettered by the Islamic Religious Department of Selangor.
On Feb 5, 1970, the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs (MKI) released a statement on halal products’ importance as part of Muslims’ values.
The world’s first halal standard was released in 2000, the MS1500:2009 – general guidelines on the production, preparations, and halal food handling. Four years later, the guidelines were revised for the first time, drawing on the manufacture, preparation, handling, and halal food storage.
Amri said: “Today, Malaysia has a wide range of halal certifications, covering halal cosmetics and personal care, consumer goods, transportation and warehousing, tourism and pharmaceuticals.
Malaysia is seen as a reference point for other countries to expand its halal industry.
A global leader
During the session, the Senior Director of the Department of Standard Malaysia (DSM), Hussalmizzar Hussain said: “As of Nov 30, 2020, Malaysia had come out with 28 halal standards.”
A halal expert, Roziatul Akmam Osman, emphasised: “A halal policy helps to guide people’s actions towards achieving the desired outcomes or can compel behaviours. With halal policy guidelines, the industry will be able to make the first step to leading the halal industry.”
Given the Malaysian Standards, Hussalmizar shared: “The implementation of Malaysia standards can either be for voluntary use or mandatory use. Not all standards can be made mandatory unless it affects consumers’ safety, health and the environment.”
Malaysia is a global leader in developing halal products and services standards, making the country highly respected and recognised in this field.
The Malaysian Standards relating to halal were developed to meet the growing demand for halal products and services to complement Malaysia’s halal ecosystem.
Challenges to the halal policy
The Halal Industry Development Council (HIDC) was established to play an important role in driving and overseeing the entire Halal Malaysia ecosystem to make Malaysia a global halal hub.
The government, which is responsible for implementing halal-related initiatives, provides the necessary support to the HIDC.
Currently, 80 per cent of halal exports are dominated by Multinational Corporations (MNCs).
“In Malaysia, 80 per cent of halal companies comprise small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The concern here is that less than 600 SMEs have Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) marked under the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP),” said the UMHRC Associate Member, Johari Ab Latiff.
On challenges, he said there were limited initiatives to create new markets. Industries relating to medical devices, vaccines and logistics were also getting more complicated.
The Director Pharmacy of Malaysian Armed Forces, Brig Jen Datuk Dr A. Halim Basari highlighted: “Yes, we need a proper national halal policy. It will positively affect the National Vaccines Development Plan (NVDP) and the same goes to the National Halal Pharmaceuticals Development Plan (NHPDP).
“A well-constructed halal policy also will beautifully affect the national Halal Pharmaceuticals (HP) readiness and future direction from our national sustainability (wellness, economic and Security) standpoint.
“A previous study on ‘Halal Governance in Malaysia’ concluded that the government, regulators and halal agencies must be involved in halal related matters in this country and agree on the concept of a strategic management system of the halal industry and its legal regime.”
The way forward
Despite numerous challenges facing the halal industry, the pandemic has partly helped the professionals and business stakeholders to develop groundbreaking efforts.
Moving forward, halal integrity will be reinforced through the National Halal Policy, introducing a Manual Procedure for Halal Certification Malaysia (2021), presenting a Halal Medical Device Scheme (2021), and at the same time sustaining Jakim’s accredited ISO IEC 17065 (2020).
The government has invested RM15 billion in Malaysia’s very own halal parks. Besides that, there are plans to lift exports and SME halal exporters from 1,400 to 1,600, which will create 330,000 jobs.
According to Roziatul, HDC has come out with a halal industry masterplan and with that, they have identified Malaysia’s halal ecosystem. This will converge experts from business, Shariah, and science and technology towards making Malaysia’s halal industry better.
The latest halal initiative by Jakim is upgrading the manual procedures with crucial emphasis on Certified Halal Executive, Internal Halal Control System, Halal Assurance System and Training Awareness.
Roziatul said: “Recently, the Halal Management Division of Jakim was accredited with an ISO/IEC17065:2012 – a Conformity Assessment comprising requirements certifying products, process and services. The accreditation was presented by the Department of Standards Malaysia for its innovative solutions in terms of halal certification.”
Another initiative is providing an informed choice of halal products and services to products concerning Muslim religious obligations.