PENAMPANG: Malaysia will send representatives to Australia for a
committee hearing to be held before the Bill that requires palm oil
labelling, is debated at Australia’s Parliamentary level.
would be another effort in correcting the misconceptions towards
Malaysia’s palm oil practices, following Plantation Industries and
Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok’s recent visit to the land
“As we know the Australian Se-nate has passed the
Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labeling – Palm Oil Bill) … But
before the Lower House of the Australian Parliament’s debate, there will
be a hearing at the committee level.
We are sending
representatives and the hearing this time will be on the economic
aspects and what we will explain to the Australians is that the oil palm
industry has lifted a lot of Malaysians out of the poverty trap,
especially in rural areas, with not less than 600,000 people directly or
indirectly employed in the plantation industry,” he told reporters
after launching a district level 1Malaysia futsal competition here
He said Australians should be aware that smallholders represented 40
per cent of the industry, which meant if this commodity should be
labelled as something unsafe to consume, it would affect the source of
livelihood for a lot of people in Malaysia.
Dompok led a
delegation to Australia in July to promote several commodities,
including rubber and timber, but special focus was given towards
lobbying Australians against the Parliamentary move that could threaten
Malaysia’s palm oil industry.
Asked on when the committee
hearing would be held, he said Australian Parliament had set an August
15 deadline for those wanting to present a case and hearing would be
“The Malaysian team will consist of people on
the ground, experts that have done research on palm oil and will have a
chance to present themselves and defend their submissions before the
Parliamentarians,” he added.
Dompok has also asked the
Malaysian Palm Oil Board to hold seminars and workshops in Australia in
order for locals to participate and understand more about Malaysia’s
palm oil industry.
He said although Australia has stated three
grounds as reasons to pass the Bill, they were all unfounded due to
“They cited depletion of forests (environmental
grounds), displacement of orang utans and that palm oil was harmful on
health grounds … but it is a known fact that Malaysia is committed to
preserving at least 50 per cent of total land as forests, and today we
have 55.3 per cent as forest reserves.
“And, to say we have
destroyed orang utans’ habitat due to forest cutting is also not true
… orang utan population is mostly in the east coast of Sabah and
smaller numbers yet in Sarawak, where both states have sanctuaries for
these primates … While the health issue of palm oil has been addressed
in the past and is no longer an issue,” Dompok explained.
fact, he said the misconceptions towards Malaysia’s palm oil practices
and the treatment of its wildlife has spread to other countries, which
has led to the international community coming to wrong conclusions.
“I have previously visited a zoo in Netherlands, where they had a lot
of negative materials pasted around the zoo on how orang utans were kept
in Malaysia and how palm oil cultivation was leading to forest
“When I spoke to some of the zoo staff, they did not know that there were still abundant orang utans in Malaysia.
“This shows complete ignorance and it is being furthermore fed by
(international) NGOs. I told them that they should come and see for
themselves in Malaysia,” he added. – Bernama