Friday, 5 October 2007

Now that our rainforests are gone, they want biofuel

Now that our rainforests are gone, they want biofuel -
Noor Aza OthmanSep 21, 07 3:19pm

The Malaysian capitalist palm oil corporations are using the ever readily modified language game to simultaneously deceive and appease European and American consumers, NGOs and activists, particularly in Europe since Europe has the strictest socio-environmental laws in the world.

Hijacking and manipulating the agenda of the global warming crisis, the language game of such corporations now is not anymore about ‘expanding’ the palm oil industry” but ‘to expand to maximum capacity, the (supposedly sustainable) biodiesel industry.

Such expansion has been and continues to be at the most tragic cost of the Third World’s human and environmental rights and includes the destruction of ancient rainforests, wildlife and the socio-environmental rights of traditional indigenous communities, mainly in Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Cambodia. As with the logging industry, some of the plantation products might be exported to China first, before being processed and exported into Europe.

What is ironic is that some gullible Europeans have bought the idea that biodiesel including that from palm oil, to replace petrol especially for cars, is necessary to construct a less polluted West besides contribute to a reduction in global warming. But how they forgot that the destruction of rainforests for logging and palm oil plantations has been proven to contribute to a warmer world all over?

The propaganda campaigns by the capitalist palm oil corporations continue. An uncritical and simplistic report by Al Jazeera recently praised Sweden for aggressively leading the way in replacing petroleum with biodiesel without questioning what kind of biodiesel it was. And as has been reported recently in the Malaysian media, the Swedish Trade Minister who, after meeting up with Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil secretary-general in Malaysia) demanded that there be an increase in the export of biofuel from palm oil to Europe. This minister, whom I can presume has not travelled out from his luxurious comfort zone to Borneo, would have been stricken with shame if he had seen for himself the extent of the destruction of our ancient tropical rainforests and the poverty and suffering of our indigenous communities due to mass logging and plantation activities.

Further, there is also an increase in the export of our wildlife for barbaric and vicious animal experimentation and vivisection, as recently announced in the new law to lift the ban on the export of long-tailed macaques. It is most likely that many of these wildlife are caught while the forests are being cleared. A few days ago, a giant Malaysian palm oil corporation called IJMP Sdn Bhd said it would clear thousands of hectares of beautiful coastal region in Sandakan in Sabah for biofuel development which will be exported mostly to Europe and the US. It looks like our liberation from British capitalist colonisation has been hijacked tragically by the local capitalist class and that includes the bumiputera capitalist class.

It is this extremely greedy, ruthless, corrupted and primitive capitalist class of politicians and corporations that have really betrayed this once glorious nation-state which used to have such a beautiful natural environment that included diverse wildlife. That’s how I remember it, running wildly and happily in my childhood through the villages and ricefields, swimming in clean rivers and oceans, trekking through the beautiful rainforests and mountains and walking on remote resort- free sandy beaches.

I am not merely trying to be nostalgic but would like to remind all that it is still possible to save whatever is left of our natural environment. Foremost for that, we need the help of Europe’s socio-environmental conscious consumers and NGOs since Europe is the second biggest importer of our logs and an increasing importer of our palm oil and other mass plantation products.

Hopefully, other big importers of our logs and palm oil products such as the US, Japan, India and the Middle East will also assist us. Such help can be in any way including writing or calling on their left (especially from the Green and Socialist parties) members of parliament to debate this issue in their European parliaments and ultimately for NGOs to promote a ban on both our logging and plantation products. This ban should be in place until Malaysia and other Southeast Asian governments truly improve in upholding their environmental responsibilities. Europe should lead the way if need be (but not through imperialism or superior-thinking) but it seems as if Europe itself has long forgotten and long neglected its own responsibility towards the world’s environment.