Sahabat Alam at a Loss Over Registrar’s Warning

KUALA LUMPUR: Sahabat Alam Malaysia, an affiliate of
Amsterdam-based Friends of the Earth, does not want to speculate on the
motive behind the Registrar of Societies’ warning about its possible
deregistration.

Earlier this week, the Registrar of Societies (ROS), Datuk
Mohd Alias Kalil warned that SAM can be deregistered as a
non-governmental organisation if there is proof that it is involved in
activities which threaten the nation’s interests.

Speaking from Miri, Alias said ROS is monitoring SAM closely and any other NGOs which acted extremely in their cause.

In an interview yesterday, SAM secretary Meenakshi Raman said: “We don’t know what motivated the ROS to give such warning.

“We were caught by surprise when we saw it in the news. There was no official letter from ROS, so we shall wait and see.”

Friends of the Earth have in the last five years blamed the oil palm
industry’s rapid growth to deforestation and peatland degradation,
which in turn is blamed for species extinction, worsening climate
change and the displacement of indigenous people.

It lobbies for a moratorium on the conversion of forests and peat
land into plantations be it oil palm, rubber or timber species.

Asked
if SAM received funding from Friends of the Earth headquarters in
Amsterdam, Meenakshi replied: “Yes, we do just like other affiliates in
other countries. We don’t see any problem with this. We’re a credible
organisation and we take our cause seriously.”

To a question
whether SAM considered whether lobbying for a moratorium on forest and
peatland could serve as trade barriers seeking to limit the growth of
the oil palm and rubber industry, she replied: “We stand by the view
that agriculture has to be sustainably produced and we’re concerned
about deforestation.

“We hold the view that our activities
are consistent with the government’s policy on environmental
protection. We don’t see how we’re acting against the interests of our
country.”

Source : New Straits Times

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