Halal Standards in Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore: An Overview
The Muslim communities in Southeast Asia are undeniably the global leaders in building halal ecosystems based on strong standards. Case in point is the work done by MABIMS (or the Menteri-Menteri Agama Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, dan Singapura), the collective body of Nusantara’s Islamic religious ministers.
Although it was initially established to promote religious collaboration and maintain interfaith harmony within the regional communities, MABIMS has also been a key institution in facilitating the trade of halal goods and at the same time strengthen the sovereignty of every member country.
In this capacity, MABIMS has been actively working towards the harmonisation of halal standards and compliance procedures within the four countries. Though it may be considered as an unofficial platform, MABIMS’ strong cooperation and networking can be advantageous in improving the Ummah’s understanding of Islam and that of Ahli Sunnah Wal Jama’ah principles, as well as the Malay language.
In an HDC Halal Study Report titled “The Similarities And Differences In Halal Standards For Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia And Singapore” published 15 July 2016, it compared the implementation of halal standard and logo within the four countries.
The aim of the study was to examine each of the countries’ halal standards and evaluate the extent to which harmonisation could result in a synergistic effect to extend and multiply the halal benefits beyond individual national borders.
It noted that the increasing demand for halal exports has actually accentuated the need for governments to protect investments made within the local halal sector by local corporations and foreign multinationals.
In Malaysia, law reforms driven by the government have led to further strengthening of Malaysia Halal Standard and Logo. Beginning 2012, only halal certification and logos issued by JAKIM (Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia) and the Majlis Agama Islam Negeri (MAIN) are allowed to be used by the industry.
At the state level, MAIN being the state council/ authority for Islamic Affairs delegates the state’s halal certification functions to the Jabatan Agama Islam Negeri (JAIN).
Nevertheless, the Malaysian halal logo remains a registered copyright under JAKIM’s Director General and is now used exclusively throughout the country as the sole Malaysian Halal logo.
Other Nusantara countries have also undertaken parallel steps in establishing their own halal authorities. Brunei has its own MUIB (Majelis Ugama Islam Brunei), Indonesia with its LPPOM-MUI, and now BPJPH (Badan Penyelenggara Jaminan Produk Halal), while Singapore has its MUIS (Majelis Ugama Islam Singapore).
Through these organisations, each of the four countries within MABIMS has successfully created zones of halal uniformity within their own jurisdictions.
This localised uniformity benefits domestic entrepreneurs and established businesses through increased opportunity; individual consumers by empowering them to make wiser buying decisions, and the members of the local ummah (Muslim population), by explicating the role of Islamic principles within new global contexts.