PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and Halal Development Corporation (HDC) will work closely to ensure that halal certification are issued within 23 working days, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Zahid, who is also Malaysian Halal Council chairman, said the pro-active measure was meant to tackle complaints of slow halal certification issuance, with some claiming to have waited between nine months and two years for halal certification.
He added this followed his order to Jakim on Sept 13 for the process of halal certification issuance and approvals to be simplified and expedited.
"My instruction was that decisions and approvals must be made within 30 working days.
"But both Jakim and HDC had decided to shorten it to 23 working days instead," Zahid said after chairing the council meeting at Perdana Putra here today.
He said the council agreed for the HDC and International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) to conduct a new application process through proof of concept (POC).
He said for starters, five hotels in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan will be involved in this endeavour.
"The POC will be conducted within two months and after that, we will start the 23 working-days as a new benchmark for halal certification to be issued. This will benefit tens of thousands of applicants," he said.
On another matter, Zahid said MITI and the Foreign Ministry will work jointly to promote the agenda of halal diplomacy.
Malaysia, he added, needed to market its halal products internationally and it can be done during official overseas visits, including those by the prime minister and ministries which portfolios involved halal products and services.
"We have at least three international agreements which have halal elements in it.
"We need to be proactive and all agencies especially the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation, HDC and Jakim needs to make halal diplomacy a success," he said.
On Sept 13, Zahid, at the Halal Sector Forum 2023, said it was not impossible to expedite approvals because the country boasts religious leaders who are experts in the 'halal toyyiban' (permissibilty of consumption) matters apart from having scientists, food technologists and specialists.
He had said it was compulsory for these two groups to work together and not work in silos.
Zahid said he had also instructed Jakim to hold halal certification workshops thrice yearly for new applicants and renewals to ensure that all stipulated regulations are followed.