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Interview about MS 1900:2005 – Halal Standard For Quality Management with Ahmad Sarji October 28, 2008

Posted by nikmj in General, islam.
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Five years ago, Tun Ahmad Sarji mooted the idea on developing a quality management standard that is applicable for the private and civil service providers as well as industries.

As a result, the birth of the MS 1900:2005, the halal standard to boost the practice of Islamic values in the management of work quality in a company or organisation in this country.

This standard is produced under the Committee for Industrial Standard for the Halal Standard (ISC I).

Now, two years after the commencement of the pioneer programme for the launch of the MS 1900:2005 certification scheme, a seminar would be held on Oct 30 to award this certificate to the company that succeeds in promoting the compliance to the certification to a wider group.

In conjunction with this seminar, Bernama interviewed Ahmad Sarji on the MS 1900:2005, a standard that brings forth the approach to improve work quality and performance as well as work performance through the appreciation of Islamic practices.

QUESTION : You are the person who mooted the idea for the creation of the Industrial Standards Committee for Halal Standard (ISC I). How the idea cropped out and what made you to initiate its setting up?

ANSWER : The idea to create the ISC I came from my observation on what was happening in the world of management, both in the civil and private sectors.

I noticed that one of the major problems that concerned work quality in Malaysia was the absence of a standard based on Islamic guidelines that could be made as the yardstick or gauge to evaluate the efficiency of activities held by the particular organisation.

These organisations were frequently linked with issues related to transparency in the administration, corruption and lack of enthusiasm for the task entrusted, not safeguarding the welfare of stakeholders (employees, clients, shareholders, community and environment) and the rest.

In other words, the focus and appreciation of Islamic noble values were not given serious attention by the management. Hence I felt that it is time for us to develop a quality management standard that can be applied by the industries as well as the public and private service providers.

So I took the opportunity to develop on the idea to create the ISC I when I became the Sirim chairman (for 10 years) and finally on Feb 18, 2003, the Malaysian Standard and Accreditation Council (MSDAM) gave its nod for the setting up.

When I was the International Trade and Industry Ministry Secretary General and chairman for the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA in 1986), I was responsible over the export of Malaysian goods and services. I upheld the principle of “if we wish to improve our competitive edge, our products and services as well as the management of our firms should be of high standard”.

I am in the opinion that even though there are many firms that adhere to the standard required by the ISO and obtained certification from Sirim QAS International, our competitiveness could still improved if we include Islamic values into the existing standard by setting a syariah committee to ensure that our products are halal, its production was halal and the working environment is according to Islamic principles.

Thus, I recommended for a management standard in terms of Islamic perspective to be set up and this received the support of Sirim QAS, Standards Department and the then Science and Technology Ministry.

Hence the birth of MS 1900:2005, the management quality of an organisation based on the Islamic perspective and to meet the certification requirements, each organisation or firm is required to appoint a syariah officer to provide assurance on the compliance of Islamic syariah for the halal products and services provided.

MS 1900:2005 had been gazetted and now is at the level on how to promote this standard for Muslim-operated firms or companies to apply for this certification based on the specifications and conditions prescribed.

The significance of MS 1900:2005 is that it focuses on Islamic values and its hold on Islamic principles like ensuring continuous quality and standard of products and quality with the presence of surveillance audit. Basically, ISC I develops the halal standard in management for food and non-food products.

Since the date of its inception, ISC I has been chaired by IKIM while its members are made up of representatives from Jakim (Islamic Advancement Department), Standard Malaysia, Sirim Berhad, Fomca (Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations), Miti (Ministry of International Trade and Industry), Health Ministry, Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association, Malaysian Manufacturers Federation, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry and academicians from local universities.

QUESTION : As an organisation related to agendas of Islamic matters and affairs, the post as the chairman of ISC I and IKIMs involvement in the development of halal standard brings a progressive image for IKIM. What are your comments on this?

ANSWER : IKIM attempts to discard the traditional image that the society always furnish on Islamic institutions. Islam should be sen as a way of life that as a whole covers all aspects of existence.

Islam does not merely delves on the issue of religious obligations, but also covers guidelines on quality subsistence in terms of economy, social, culture, politics and others.

Thus by championing a subject that has been so far not seen as something Islamic by the society, even though it is demanded by religion, I believe it gradually erodes this traditional belief. This brings a positive image on Islam to be viewed as a progressive and dynamic religion instead of being static and negative.

(Deputy Director General) Nik Mustapha Nik Hassan is named chairman as it is IKIM that initiated this effort and hence it should be accorded the honour. He is assisted by Sirim Berhad, Science, Technology and Innovations Ministry, Standards Department and the others.

IKIMs image would improve because (MS 1900:2005) is the best practice in terms of Islam, not only IKIM being able to deliver or propagate Islamic principles, understanding and concept. In fact via this IKIM could monitor and move the finest methods in management.

IKIM has a role to propagate this effort, only that IKIM does not have the authority to issue the MS 1900:2005. Instead Sirim has this right with gazettment from the Science (Technology and Innovations) Ministry.

But what is important is the endeavour undertaken by IKIM itself.

QUESTION : What actually this standard wants to highlight?

ANSWER : MS 1900:2005 is one of the halal standards in quality management fashioned by the Islamic Management Technical Committee under the patronage of ISC I.

It is developed using the ISO 9001:2000 framework. MS 1900:2005 is the Islamic version of the ISO 9001:2000 certification and is the first of its kind worldwide.

This Islamic version of certification, themed : Quality Management System – Requirement From Islamic Perspectives MSc1900:2005 focuses on these needs for the creation of what could be referred to as a quality management system from the Islamic perspective.

It is not saying that ISO 9001:2000 is not in line with Islam but it is not really comprehensive if it is to be applied by an Islamic organisation or a body with the majority of its workers and clients made up of Muslims.

The objective behind this effort is to create a standard to inculcate the Islamic practices and methods in an organisation’s quality management system.

Through the appreciation and ways of these values in an organisation’s management and administration, the firms work quality and performance would be improved in line with the objective brought by Islam.

The move by ISC I to develop MS1900:2005 is timely as the nation is experiencing a decline in the appreciation of noble values among the society and business community.

This situation could be viewed through issues of transparency, corruption, workers commitment and the others that are enveloping the governments and private sector administration in this nation.

Incongruously the companies that face these issues are organisations led by Muslims and the majority of their workers are Muslims.

Hence through the implementation of MS 1900:2005 is hoped to assist a firm to improve its quality and performance for more meaningful contribution for development of the society.

QUESTION : MS 1900:2005 is developed on the ISO 9001 framework. Why not use a specifically new framework?

ANSWER : There is nothing in the ISO 9001 that contradicts Islam. In fact its contents is suitable to be made as guidelines by the organisation to improve its performance and work quality.

Only that the ISO 9001 does not emphasise on Islamic input that can be utilised as the yardstick by an Islamic organisation or that where Muslims made up the majority of its employees or clients.

In MS 1900:2005, these inputs are incorporated. Among them is the practices and appreciation of Islamic values, the need to create the post of syariah adviser and provision of facilities for the Muslim workers requirements.

I was made to understand that when the Geneva-based International Organisation For Standardisation (ISO) drafted the ISO 9001 in the mid 1980s, representatives from Muslim nations were present.

To avoid any sentiments that may crop out against the acceptance of ISO 9001 among user nations, the ISO party attempted to avoid any religious and country-related complications.

Hence it is not right to say that the ISO 9001 is non-Islamic and cannot be made the basis for halal quality management system. Only that if it is to meet the needs of Muslim stakeholders, it should be enhanced and the result is the birth of MS 1900:2005.

For example the ISO, on environment upkeep does not contradicts Islam and is encouraged but if we adapted it according to the Muslim perspective. So there is no need for us to create a ISO standard of our own as the existing one can be used where applicable.

QUESTION : From what you have observed in the management of organisation be it in the civil and corporate sectors as well as the non-governmental organisations (NGOs), by implementing the MS 1900:2005, can these bodies obtain the cutting edge if compared with institutions that apply the ISO 9001:2000?

ANSWER : Nowadays, the consumers are more concerned on the quality of products and services that they purchased or subscribed. Coupled with the fact that is increased in awareness among the society. Apart from that the purchasing power of Muslims locally and worldwide has improved.

Therefore by implementing the MS1900:2005, an organisation would gain the edge against its competitors. As with the ISO 9001, to be awarded with the certification, an organisation has to undergo tight audit screening by Sirim. Hence matters on effective administration would be given appropriate attention in the effort to ensure each activity carried out adhere to the standards requirements.

The four firms that have so far gained this certification, have definitely derived the recognition and confidence of their respective clients. For example if they obtained services from PNB Darby Park, they are definitely satisfied as this hotel had obtained the certificate from Sirim QAS International, hence its services are better than that provided elsewhere.

According to the Islamic values, we should deliver the best available services and on time otherwise the certificate would be revoked.

That is the bonus by delivering more confidence for the clients and we do not simply buy over the certificate. I believe Sirim QAS International would not issue the certificate if they are not satisfied with the capability of an organisation in meeting the stipulated pre-requisites and subsequently a surveillance audit would also be held.

QUESTION : Sirim launched the pioneer programme for the MS 1900:2005 certification in September 2006. To date how far has this programme developed and are you contented?

ANSWER : When the pilot programme was launched in September 2006, there were 11 firms interested in the MS 1900:2005. As the MS 1900:2005 is a new certification, Sirim assisted by providing assistance like on how to develop the manual or work procedures. Later after passing through several stages including the work process implementation, Sirim held the certification audit.

So far, four companies — Natural Wellness Sdn Bhd, Century Total Logistic Sdn Bhd, Takaful Ikhlas and PNB Darby Park have achieved the MS 1900:2005 recognition from Sirim QAS International Sdn Bhd while the others are in the midst of attaining this certificate.

From next year, Sirim would conduct five-module training sessions for companies that wish to implement the MS 1900:2005. These modules focus on aspects in MS1900 like the company’s needs, practices and appreciation of Islamic values as well as aspects related to auditing requirements of the certificate.

Thus any firm that wish to implement the MS 1900:2005 has to send its representatives to attend the training. This is not a form of burden for the company but more towards providing guidance for smoother and better implementation of the MS 1900:2005.

I think the achievement so far is rather slow. By right, more than four firms should already have this certificate. To me this is connected to the propagation of information, should be more actively promoted by IKIM itself like holding more seminars and discussions. We should stress on the impacts on an organisation if they accept the MS 1900:2005 certificate. Then they would accept it well.

At the moment I am not really happy as too few have applied and obtained this certificate but I hope after the completion of this seminar, more firms would apply for the certificate

QUESTION : Is your target inclines towards Muslim firms and organisations?

ANSWER : I am in the opinion that Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera firms have the same needs as the products and services rendered by the non-Bumiputera companies have entered the market in West Asia and other Muslim countries.

There are companies and hotels that have many Muslim clients and in this aspect both are equally important.

The companies wish to convince their Muslim clients and the clients gained confidence when the firm obtained the certificate like MS 1900:2005.

In my view it is apt for the companies to apply for this certificate to meet the need of their clients. For example if guests from West Asia arrive at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur and if the hotel possess the MS1900:2005 certificate, then they would have no qualms to stay there.

The same aspect applies to the working environment particularly for food-producing firms that must focus on the hygiene and halal factors of the production and packaging of their goods in order not to contravene the Islamic requirements.

They are welcomed if they wish to obtain this certification but if they wish to get other ISO certifications, there is nothing wrong with that.

I have been to Jakarta and played golf at Pondok Indah on Friday but when the time arrived for the Friday prayers, the place is used for that purpose.

This is the sort of preparation that our organisations and hotels should have towards meeting the needs of clients. The first thing that I did at IKIM was to provide a surau for prayers.

QUESTION : As the chairman of PNB that has many subsidiaries and associated companies, do you encourage these companies to implement the MS 1900:2005?

ANSWER : Actually the move towards this direction has been initiated. For instance PNB Darby Park is PNB subsidiary that had obtained the MS 1900: 2005 certificate.

In the hoteling industry, PNB Darby Park can be proud for being the first hotel in Malaysia to have received this certificate.

Several companies have been invited to the seminar and what is crucial now is to expose this certification to them.

They have to be convinced that compliance to this certification would boost the competitiveness of their products and services. However I could not force them as these companies have their own say on whether they want the certificate.

QUESTION : What is your hope for the MS 1900:2005 in the immediate future and also for time to come?

ANSWER : I hope the MS 1900:2005 would be well received by the industries and service providers in both the civil and private sectors. I believe by implementing the MS 1900:2005, the organisation would improve its performance in terms of having the competitive edge apart from being able to transform its employees into being capable of producing better quality work.

I also hope that the MS 1900:2005 is well accepted internationally particularly the firms or bodies within the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) countries.

The value of MS 1900:2005 is universal. Even though its compliance is from the Islamic perspective its universal value can be accepted by all including the non-Muslims like improving work quality and performance, proper and timely delivery. All of these are not in conflict with universal values and general features of the other religions.

I wish that with the presence of many parties that obtain the certification and its compliance, we can better enhance the quality of our products and services as well as productivity. It is hoped this quality stays everlasting to ensure that its competitive edge is always higher than the firms that do not have this certificate.

I am confident that the benefits obtained from complying with the MS 1900:2005 as I have studied it right from its draft stage until the value-adding process and improvements made to the flaws, right until the phase when it was launched, gazetted and implemented.

— BERNAMA

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