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OIC TODAY talks with Mr. Mahmud Abbas, CEO of Central Spectrum (M) Sdn. Bhd, during the celebration of achieving a new milestone along the journey of the global Halal hub – Halal International Selangor (HIS) – to serve the 1.8 billion Muslims with an expected market force valued at USD 2.47 trillion by 2018.

Halal International Selangor (HIS) is the premier epicentre of the Global Halalan Toyyiban Trade and Industries, servicing the needs and market demand of consumers, retailers, traders, distributors and manufacturers, creating conduits and connecting critical components within the halal industry ecosystem. As an essential part of its mission to train individuals and educate organisations and communities about the importance and application of Halal certification and its processes, HIS signed MOU with four local universities on 2 September 2015. After the ceremony, we had the chance to talk with Mr. Mahmud Abbas, CEO of Central Spectrum (M) Sdn. Bhd. the driver of HIS initiatives, who enlightened us about the foundation, current endeavours and future plans of HIS.

Central Spectrum is a property developer; a Government-Linked Company under the Selangor State Government was set up 20 years ago when the Government of Malaysia was establishing West Port in Pulau Indah; with the objective for an industrial area that supports the port; or rather the port supports this area, Mr Mahmud said. The premier project of Central Spectrum is Pulau Indah Industrial Park (PIIP) whose first and second phases. have completed and the third phase is being implemented. “Along the way, Halal became a major issue that required careful attention,” Mr Mahmud explained. Rather than establishing a new company, we have decided to create a Halal concerned division, he added. Thus, Halal International Selangor was incorporated in the company. HIS operates independently with specialised staffs that have specific focus to Halal, Mr. Mahmud emphasised.

These HIS initiatives comprising the 10 key programmes, are the first of its kind in the world explains the slow movement at the initial stages where the Halal hub was only represented by its physical location without any consideration to the Halal ecosystem. The ecosystem of HIS comprising the 10 distinct programmes was deeply discussed before being approved by the Board of Directors. The aim was to develop a comprehensive set of programmes which addresses most of the contemporary issues in different areas and industries, Mr Mahmud explained as he answers our questions about the way through which HIS operates.

During the past three years, since Mr Mahmud joined Central Spectrum, HIS has improved drastically that its activities are no longer covering the domestic demand but also several MOU have been signed with Halal entities from different parts of the world including Japan Halal Corporation, Korea Halal Corporation and the European Halal Development Agency, UK. “Another agreement will be signed with an agency from Belgium,” Mr Mahmud mentioned. Japan has been very receptive to the Halal concept and applications, a thing that was highlighted by the Japanese Prime Minister who expressed the government’s hope of having the Japanese manufacturers venture into the Halal market, especially as the country organises the coming Olympics 2020.

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The increased demand on Halal Certification and the ways to design several production processes to comply with Halal measures are clearly covered in HIS 10 key programmes, have spurs the idea of conducting seminars for local as well as international audiences, Mr Mahmud said. In addition to this, HIS has received visitors from countries all over the world that are interested in the programmes; and was also invited to several events to share the experience and stories of success. “Even when the occasion is not mainly about Halal, whenever I introduce myself as the head of Selangor Halal Hub, people approach me to know more about our programmes.” Mr Mahmud said.

One of the very important and unique programmes is the Halal Technical Competent Person (HTCP). It basically focuses on training individuals to perform on different settings and in various situations concerning Halal measures and standards before being placed in companies to ensure the compliance of their operations to these standards. Companies only accept HTCPs when there are regulations that put such condition prior to being Halalcertified, said Mr Mahmud. “HTCP is a good programme that we believe can be exported internationally,” he added. The MOUs between HIS and several universities have the objective of training more people who are aware of the Halal certification process.

Mr Mahmud replied as we asked him about action plan of the 10 programmes: “we will never come to the stage where we say we have reached the line. We are achieving milestones along the way of developing and improving a very good system for the Ummah. Another milestone that has been achieved today is the presence of Y.A.D. Dato’ Setia Haji Mohamad Adzib Bin Mohd Isa, chairman of Selangor State Islamic Religious Council, which legibly reflects the State Government’s support to our programmes.” In fact, Malaysia, represented in its government agencies as well as private sector, remains a great contributor to the development and spread of Halal industry that appeals not only to Muslims but also increased demand has been noticeable in many non-Muslim countries.