This letter which is now published as an open letter to readers was sent by MPOC to the editor of Daily Telegraph in response to The Great Ape Scandal article.
The Great Ape Scandal article in the Daily Telegraph, January 21, 2006
Contrary to the impressions given by Mr. Stanley Johnson in his article, orang utan remains Malaysia’s favourite animal, and every effort has been taken by the Malaysian Government to protect the environment and the orang utan.
Most environmental issues stem from the premise that the expansion of oil palm plantations are harmful to the environment, and as the article suggests destroys the natural habitat of the orang utans, as a result of deforestation. These prejudiced views often arise from trade rivalry, which would see interested parties benefiting from the sensationalism of palm oil; and, in this case, misinformation. In Malaysia, the expansion of oil palm plantations over the last decade in fact came from conversion of other economic crops, namely rubber, cocoa and coconut, while the balance came from logged-over forest of areas zoned for agriculture.
Comprehensive laws and acts concerning the environment are in place and enforced strictly by Malaysia’s Department of Environment (DOE) and its environmental scientists. Particular emphasis is given for developments where there may be endangered species or biodiversity needing protection. An Environmental Impact Assessment conducted by experts in relevant fields is mandatory for all developments or changes in agricultural land use exceeding 500 hectares, and the assessment report is available to all interested parties for reviews and objections.