Expanding the nation’s economy the Halal way

Izah Azahari

When we talk about Halalan Thayyiban and Halal Hub, it is related to Brunei’s intention to diversify the economy.

This is the belief of the Founder of IHADA, Special Collaborative Professor of Osaka University (ASEAN Campus) and Adjunct Professor at Halalan Thayyiban Research Centre, Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA), Hajah Normah Suria Hayati binti Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama (Dr) Haji Awang Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri.

Hajah Normah Suria Hayati , one of the panellists during the Brunei Halal Showcase (BruHAS) Forum titled ‘Enhancing Halal Hub Sustainability through Halalan Thayyiban Products and Services’, said the term Halalan Thayyiban can be found in Al-Quran.

In the past, the focus was only on Halal but now there is an emphasis on Thayyiban which means ‘wholesome’ and ‘clean’. “To create a Halal industry, we should look at Halalan Thayyiban. We should go for healthy products because even if it is Halal but contains too much sugar, it is not Thayyiban,” said the Founder of IHADA.

Touching on aspects of a Halal hub, Hajah Normah Suria Hayati said Brunei has a strong geographical position among ASEAN member countries to create this hub. Another aspect is Brunei’s involvement in BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area), where the Sultanate should take advantage of partnerships pertaining to production of raw material.

The panellists during the event. PHOTO: RAHWANI ZAHARI

Fellow panellist, President of the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Brunei Darussalam (NCCIBD) Haji Mohammad Hanafi bin Pehin Orang Kaya Di Gadong Seri Diraja Dato Laila Utama Haji Abdul Rahman said we can create a Halal platform for Brunei because of the country’s strong Halal certification and use the Brunei Halal logo as a platform for everyone to find Halal food and services.

“I saw one of the Taiwan booths selling Halal certified products from Indonesia’s Majlis Ijma’ Ulama. We can create and advertise

Brunei Halal and make the country a Halal hub,” said the NCCIBD President. Meanwhile, Managing Director of Holistic Management Services Company (HMSC) and Adjunct Lecturer at UNISSA’s Halalan Thayyiban Research Centre Haji Sabri bin Haji Mohd Taha said there are several criteria that Brunei should achieve to become a Halal hub. The country must have a global reference centre comprising the Halal industry, sciences, research and knowledge. Haji Sabri believes Brunei must strengthen its industry to be a Halal producer.

Touching on Brunei’s number nine ranking in the Global Islamic Economy Indicator for 2017 to 2018, Haji Sabri said with Malaysia ranked first, and being the only two ASEAN member countries in the top 10, the gap is significant.

“There is still a long way to go because we lack one of the criteria to achieve a Halal hub,” said Haji Sabri.

Another panellist, Head of Halal Industry Development Division, Ministry of Energy, Manpower and Industry Haji Hadilah bin Haji Abdul Manaf said the Halal concept is no longer seen as a religious obligation.

Halal food products are in demand as they represent cleanliness and quality.

“We have the expertise, the research centre, the knowledge. But if you look at our industry, although we are among the top 10 in the world regarding the Halal economy, the gap between us and number one is very far,” said Haji Hadilah.

“The government is trying to bridge that gap, in cooperation with the private sector to reach our 2035 Vision.”