Weekly Highlights

Zuraida must focus her efforts on the Malaysian Palm Oil industry

Member of Parliament for Seputeh, Teresa Kok has urged the new Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) Zuraida Kamaruddin to confront the challenging palm oil sector head on. It is imperative that the minister proves to the world that the Malaysian palm oil industry is environment friendly.

The palm oil industry has significantly contributed to the national economy with an export revenue of over RM 73.3 billion. The industry’s ability to be profitable and resilient throughout the pandemic means that utmost must go into protecting its continual survival.

The threat against the palm oil industry comes from various anti-palm oil lobbies and NGOs. This will require urgent, concerted and protracted efforts from the Ministry and its various agencies in meeting the challenges.

During Teresa’s tenure as Minister overlooking the same portfolio she convinced the Pakatan Harapan cabinet to adopt four proposals which would show the government’s commitment and seriousness to ensure that the Malaysian palm oil industry is not only a responsible industry but also eco and environment friendly:

1) to cap the total oil palm cultivation area to 6.5 million hectares; 

2) to stop new planting of oil palm in new peatland areas and to further tighten regulations with regard to existing oil palm cultivation on peatlands; 

3) to ban conversion of all natural forest reserves, for the purpose of oil palm cultivation; and 

4) to make oil palm plantation maps available for public access and information. 

Due to the efforts of the PH government, an estimated RM18.5 million is likely to be collected and streamed entirely to the Malaysian Palm Oil Green Conservation Fund (MPOGCF) for this year. The primary aim of the MPOGFC initiative was to let it be known that the Malaysian palm oil industry cares about the environment. 

Below are the series of environmental projects that were earmarked to be funded by MPOGCF during Teresa’s tenure as Minister: 

1) Commencement of the planting of one million forest trees in Lower Kawag, part of the Ulu Segama – Malua Forest Reserve in the district of Lahad Datu, Sabah. It covers an area of 2,500 hectares of degraded forest.  

2) A program to test the viability of planting more elephant grass and to create an elephant-corridor in the northern region of Sabah, as pigmy elephants have previously died due to their unfortunate encroachments into the plantation areas in Sabah. 

3) Collaborating with the Sabah Wildlife Department to establish and operate the Sabah Wildlife Rescue Unit to better monitor and manage endangered wildlife including Orang Utans and Pygmy Elephants in Sabah.

4) Collaborating with Perhilitan in the conservation of Malayan Tigers in Peninsula Malaysia.  

The previous minister under Perikatan Nasional, Datuk Khairuddin Aman Razali launched the “Sawit Anugerah Tuhan” campaign which unfortunately did not have the desired traction which resulted in the anti-palm oil NGOs gaining and reclaiming lost propaganda ground and further damaging the reputation of Malaysian palm oil. 
Love My Palm Oil Campaign - YouTube
During Teresa’s tenure as Minister, the Ministry had launched the “Love My Palm Oil (LMPO)” campaign to promote knowledge about palm oil and the multiple uses of palm oil in Malaysia.
Malaysian palm oil falls - Markets - Business Recorder
“Many Malaysians were and still are naive about the nutritional benefits of palm oil. They were not even aware that the cooking oil they consumed daily was palm oil and many consumer products found on the local supermarket shelves are also palm oil based.” – Teresa Kok

The MPIC was supposed to partner with the Tourism Ministry to publicise the LMPO campaign during the Visit Malaysia Year 2020 and to use it as a platform, to disseminate knowledge and the benefits of palm oil to the targeted 30 million foreign tourists and to the world collectively. However, the plan was aborted with the change of government in February 2020 and further efforts were dampened by the Covid 19 pandemic.

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